Press Releases

Nashville Hotel Claim of Threats as Reason for Canceling Pro-Israel Group Conflicts with Police Email

May 14, 2024

News Release
For Immediate Release: 5.14.24
Contact: John Manning,
Direct: 972-941-4453 

Nashville Hotel Claim of Threats as Reason for Canceling Pro-Israel Group Conflicts with Police Email
Hotel cancelled pro-Israel group reservation just days before conference claiming credible threats now denied by police. 

Nashville, TN—An email from Nashville Police Chief John Drake seems to conflict with claims by the Sonesta Nashville Airport Hotel that they cancelled a pro-Israel event due to security concerns, First Liberty Institute announced today.  Yesterday, First Liberty sent a letter to the Sonesta urging it to fulfill its contractual obligation to HaYovel, a Christian ministry that was scheduled to hold a summit supporting Israel at the hotel next week.  The hotel claimed “threats” regarding HaYovel and the Summit as the reason for its cancelation.

“This is very troubling that the Sonesta Hotel may have misled HaYovel,” said Hiram Sasser, Executive General Counsel at First Liberty Institute.  “Someone here is not telling the truth, but I believe Chief Drake. We are calling on the Sonesta Hotel to offer proof that Chief Drake said the hotel should cancel The Israel Summit due to threats, or to apologize to Chief Drake for claiming he said there is a threat.”

In an email dated May 10th, 2024, to HaYovel cancelling the organization’s reservation for a conference scheduled for May 20-23, hotel representatives stated, “We have received credible threats regarding the safety of your group, our guests and employees, our hotel and sister property, and to businesses in our neighborhood. Those threats were confirmed by law enforcement officials in the last 24 hours.”  In phone calls with HaYovel officials, hotel representatives Troy Carver and Jodie Pfeifer also claimed that police told them they should cancel the event due to security threats.

According to an email from Chief John Drake of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, dated May 13th, 2024, however, the Department “did not advocate, in any shape or form, for the cancellation of the conference at the Sonesta Hotel.  Any inference to the contrary is false.  Equally false is the assertion in an on-line article that this police department voiced concerns about persons being in physical danger.  In fact, members of the police department did, indeed, meet with hotel management at its request to talk about the conference.  We let it be known that we were absolutely prepared to help the hotel create a safety and security plan, as we would with any of our city’s hotels, and offer additional support if needed.”

The emails are available here.

HaYovel is a faith-based, Christian ministry that brings volunteers from all over the world to Israel to aid Israeli grape farmers in planting, pruning, and harvesting their vineyards. It is HaYovel’s religious belief that God promised the land of Israel to the Jewish people, that the Jewish people have a right to sovereignty over the entire land of Israel. HaYovel has organized and is sponsoring The Israel Summit, its first conference of pro-Israel supporters who unconditionally support Israel’s right to be sovereign in the entirety of the land of Israel.  The Summit, scheduled for May 20-22, 2024, at the Sonesta, includes guest speakers from Israel and elsewhere, education on fighting antisemitism, and various events.  But just a few days before the event, the hotel notified HaYovel that it was canceling the event.

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact John Manning at or by calling 972-941-4453.

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