Florida blacklists Airbnb for West Bank settlement boycott

“Israel has had to face scrutiny like no other country,” Florida governor Ron DeSantis said.

By
January 29, 2019 22:18
2 minute read.
Airbnb apartment (Illustrative)

Airbnb apartment (Illustrative). (photo credit: PIXABAY)

 
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The state of Florida sanctioned the global vacation website Airbnb for its decision to boycott West Bank settlements and placed it on its list of scrutinized companies.

“Israel has had to face scrutiny like no other country,” Florida governor Ron DeSantis said.

“Airbnb made a conscious decision to discriminate against the Jewish people and as Governor I have an obligation to oppose policies that unfairly target the world’s only Jewish State and our greatest ally in the Middle East,” he said.

“Our action today solidifies the State of Florida’s resolve to stand with Israel, and if Airbnb does not denounce their previous policy of discrimination, we may be compelled to explore additional action,” DeSantis said.

John Kuczwanski, a spokesperson for the state board of administrations, said there was a 90-day review period. During that time, Airbnb will have to explain to the state of Florida that its policy “does not discriminate against the State of Israel or Jewish people,” Kuczwanski said.

He explained that according to Florida law, any company that engaged in Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment actions can be placed on that list.

The state of Florida is prohibiting investing in publicly traded companies on that list, he said, adding the state can also not contract them for services, Kuczwanski said.

But companies on the list can still engage in commercial activities in the state of Florida, he said.


Separately, he explained, state employees are already prohibited from using Airbnb.

Airbnb has insisted that it does not support BDS and that its decision to delist West Bank settlements is part of a broader policy that applies to conflict zones.

It has also applied that policy to disputed territories in Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. But the West Bank decision differs in that it only applies selectively to Jewish residents of the West Bank, and not to Palestinian ones.

In response to its placement on the scrutinized companies list, Aribnb sent The Jerusalem Post a copy of its letter to the state of Florida.

In that letter, Airbnb explains that it has invested $20 million in Israel and that obviously it has not boycotted Israel.

It also noted that its vice president Chris Lehane visited a West Bank settlement, toured the Barkan Industrial Park and met with settler leader, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan.

Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan tweeted, "Congratulations to Gov @RonDeSantisFL and our friends in #Florida on their decision to add @Airbnb to Florida's list of companies that support the anti-Semitic #BDS campaign. I'll continue to work with our allies to counter BDS, and protect Jewish communities in Judea & Samaria."

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