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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Room again at the inn?

This fall, Georgette Khoury and her family celebrated the return of the Bethlehem Inn from the Israeli army.

The Khourys, Palestinian Lutherans, invested thousands in turning their restaurant into a six-story hotel, hoping Christian pilgrims would come for the millennium celebrations (April 2001, page 50). That hope faded in 2000 when the Israeli army occupied the hotel as a guard post during the second intifada (uprising). Georgette's husband, Samir, who died in January 2004, spent most of his time and more than $20,000 in legal costs in demanding the hotel's return.

In a Sept. 14 news story (www.bethlehemmedia.net), Omar Tesdell wrote that the Khourys won a lawsuit for the hotel's return. Now they are asking the military to pay an estimated $2 million in damages: destroyed electrical and phone systems, floors soaked with fuel, walls and ceilings charred and marked with obscene graffiti, a blown-up elevator and hotel safe, and missing items that include a 250-year-old chandelier.

Fearing a rebuilding permit won't be granted, the Khoury family sees renovation as the only option. Outside the hotel a banner says: "Stay Tuned for the Reopening."


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