6,000 Miles to Graceland

Elvis restaurant and shrine offers common ground in a divided land
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2007 2:55 PM CST
Elvis impersonators worldwide gather to commemorate the King's "death day," at spots like Neve Ilan's Elvis Inn, outside Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – It has to be the quirkiest stop on the Holy Land pilgrimage: The Elvis Inn, near Jerusalem, where impersonators will converge Jan. 8 for the annual celebration of the King's birthday. With a life-sized statue near the gas pumps and 1,720 pictures of Elvis inside, the diner 6,000 miles from Memphis has become a shrine and tourist destination, the Commercial Appeal reports.

The site of a deadly 1980 bombing, the 35-year-old inn has suffered from escalating tensions, and the wall dividing Israel and the West Bank has complicated things immeasurably; one Palestinian cook's 20-minute walk to work has become a 2-hour commute by car. One impersonator says if Elvis were back, “He'd try to make peace between the Israelis and the Arabs once and for all.”