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Hilton Faces Another Boycott Over US Troops By: Lee Kaplan
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, May 18, 2007

Jewish and evangelical Christian organizations worldwide are rallying to boycott the Hilton Hotel chain for providing a venue to Al Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, that is using the Embassy Suites in Garrden Gove, California, a Hilton Hotel, to stage its fifth annual international conference. Among the guests are to be the daughter of convicted terrorist Sami al-Arian, that the organizers in their press release have called a

“political prisoner.” Among the 100 people al-Arian helped murder as the US leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, were several Americans.


Hilton management has claimed they were unaware of Al Awda’s true mission, which is to arrange boycotts and divestment of companies that not only do business in Israel, but also to boycott American firms that they believe have Jewish executives working in them such at Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Blockbuster Video and Starbucks. When contacted about this conference, Embassy Suites General Manager Dominic Acolino stated that he found the group reprehensible and would not have them back at the hotel but insisted the

current planned conference would go on. Kathy Shepard, Hilton’s VP for communications simply stonewalled any discussion on the manner.


Now it seems Hilton’s true colors are showing because they have also drawn a boycott for helping to kill a free program in Washington DC for disabled vets from the Iraq War. On April 26th, the following story, ignored by mainstream media, emerged:


Since October of 2003 Marty O'Brien and Hal Koster have been providing a free "Friday Night out on the Town" at Fran O'Brien’s Stadium Steak House for thousands of severely injured soldiers and marines injured in Iraq who are recuperating at nearby Walter Reed Army Hospital and Bethesda Naval Medical Center. Hal, a Vietnam vet, and his partner Marty, have made it a policy that they will continue to do this ... UNTIL THE LAST SOLDIER WOUNDED IN THIS CONFLICT HAS GONE HOME FROM WALTER REED AND BETHESDA.

That is stunning. What is even more stunning is how their landlord, Hilton Hotel Corp., responded to this. Hilton Hotels served Fran O'Brien's with an eviction notice. Why? Hilton doesn't want to spend the money to provide equal access for disabled people.  But it seems they can accommodate Al Awda that even links to the American Nazi Party and supports the same terrorist who injured these troops.

Letters written to Thomas Keltner, Vice President of Branding Performance for Hilton Hotel Corp. and Jeff Diskin, Senior Vice President for Brand Management & Marketing and got back polite, but unresponsive form letters the same as I received from Dominic Acolino at the Embassy Suties. VP Communications Kathy Shepard’s assistant Samantha just hung up the phone.

This complementary meal for wounded GIs is an elaborate affair with an open bar, accompanied by a full steak dinner with all the trimmings including desert. After dinner, comfort packages are provided to each of the soldiers and full steak dinners are provided for other soldiers and family members back at the hospital who can’t make it the same night. All of this at absolutely no cost to the soldiers or their families or invited staff. This has been going on each Friday now for two and a half years!

Soldiers, family members, hospital staff, their doctors and nurses and some of the most senior staff physicians at both hospitals have spoken out about the therapeutic value these nights offer as part of the soldier's recovery. The banquet staff at Fran O'Brien's, have all gotten special training to deal with the kind of disabilities they are seeing.

When someone is missing part of their jaw and orders a steak, it must be prepared especially for them, or they can’t eat it. The chef at Fran O'Brien's knows how to puree it so it tastes great and they can actually enjoy it.

This isn’t about free steaks and beer. It’s much more than that. It's about treating these men and women with respect. It's about helping them get more than a good meal. It's about helping them get some dignity. "I've been working here for a long time. We're all like family here. When someone missing their lower jaw finally gets to enjoy a steak, we all cry," said Fran Obrian’s banquet director.

Its also about Hilton lending support to an organization like Al Awda that supports the terrorists who put those soldiers where they are.

Fran O'Brien's is downstairs at the Capitol Hilton. The Americans with Disabilities Act  provides "equal access" for people with disabilities. That's why there is handicapped parking. That's why there are bathroom stalls with handrails. That is why a lot of things are done. Not because it's nice. They're done because it's the law. If there is  a flight of stairs leading to a restaurant, it must have "equal access" available for handicapped patrons. It's not an option.

There is an escalator that leads down to Fran O'Brien's. IT HAS BEEN BROKEN SINCE 1998! The restaurant owners have been fighting with Hilton to get that repaired for SIX YEARS! Hilton has never done it. Instead, after a few years of promising to do it, sending in engineers, etc. Hilton BOARDED UP THE ESCALATOR. As part of lease negotiations, the owners asked Hilton to consider putting in a lift for the disabled vets in wheelchairs. That was when the restaurant got an eviction notice.

How does a disabled person get into the restaurant now?

If someone needs to use a disabled entrance this is how he gets to Fran O'Brien's:

1) He has to go to the lobby of the Capitol Hilton.
2) He has to go to the security desk.
3) He then has to be escorted by the security guard on duty to a coat room.
4) The security guard punches in a code on the key pad and escorts him through the coat room.
5) Then he takes you to "the back of the house," as they call the service area in hotels.

6) Then he escorts the diabled GI to the lift and takes him down to the basement.
7) At the bottom, someone from the restaurant has to meet the vet and then escort himto the restaurant at the other end of the building.

8) When the soldier’s meal is finished, someone from the restaurant has to contact the security desk.
9) Then they have to escort him to the elevator.
10) Then they have to wait until someone from security arrives.
12) Then the person from the security desk escorts him back up to the main floor.
13) Then they take him back through the coat room, again keying in the security codes..

It's clear "equal access" means something radically different to Hilton Hotel Corp than it would to any sane individual. Hitlon can accommodate a Nazi-inspired group like Al Awda that also supports the Iraqi terrorists with Hilton faciltiies, but not wounded American veterans.

Hilton management’s behavior by Kathy Shepard regarding the Al Awda Conference has been disgraceful so far. And some military groups have already cancelled events at Hilton properties in Texas and elsewhere over the situation at Fran O’Brien’s. It is time to stop this nonsense by Hilton management to allow anti-Semitism to flourish at one of its hotels in California and to support our troops in Washington and get the word out to a broader audience. It is time to boycott the following hotel chains:

Conrad Hotels
Embassy Suites
Hampton Inn
Hampton Inn & Suites
Hilton Garden Inn
Homewood Suites

Another way to show support is for people who do travel is to pick up the stationary from their hotel room and write a letter to Hilton corporate headquarters, the local newspapers, TV and radio stations saying:

"I'm sending you this note from [non Hilton property] to let you know I chose to stay at [non Hilton property] because I support our troops who are being shortchanged  over Fran O’brien’s restaurant and I object to divestment and boycotting of American Jews and support of terrorists who kill US troops by Al Awda. I simply can't get a good night's sleep at a Hilton property as long as they turn their back on severely wounded soldiers and encourage an organization that supports those who made them that way.”

Al Awda openly supports the terrorists who wounded many of those US soldiers.

Mail it to:
Thomas Keltner,
Executive Vice President,
Hilton Hotel Corporation,
9336 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, California 90210

FAX: 310-205-4599

Lee Kaplan is an undercover investigative journalist and a contributor to Front Page Magazine. He is also a regular columnist for the Israel National News and Canada Free Press and a senior intelligence analyst and communications director for the Northeast Intelligence Network. He heads the organizations Defending America for Knowledge and Action (DAFKA) and Stop the ISM. He has been interviewed on over one hundred nationally and internationally syndicated radio shows and been a guest on Fox Cable TV’s Dayside with Linda Vester and Bill O’Reilly’s The Factor. He is a guest every Tuesday on the Jim Kirkwood Show on Utah's K-Talk Radio am630. He is currently working on a book about America's colleges in the War on Terror and the International Solidarity Movement.

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