Airbnb, UNHRC boycott Israel yet ignore other disputed territories, report charges

A past similar report alleged that the UN Human Rights Council was turning a blind eye to more than 40 European companies that operate in four other areas deemed occupied territory by the U.N.

November 26, 2018 14:54
3 minute read.
The logo of Airbnb is displayed at an Airbnb event in Tokyo, Japan, June 14, 2018.

The logo of Airbnb is displayed at an Airbnb event in Tokyo, Japan, June 14, 2018.. (photo credit: REUTERS/ISSEI KATO)


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An NGO published a report on Monday charging hypocrisy against boycotts of Israel in the aftermath of Airbnb’s boycott of Jewish West Bank settlements and with the UN Human Rights Council close to publishing a blacklist of companies that still do business there.

The report, written by Prof. Eugene Kontorovich of the Kohelet Policy Forum, said “major American and European companies like Airbnb, Coca Cola, Ford and Caterpillar continue to legally do business in occupied territories worldwide without hindrance. That is because – except when Israel is involved – no one believes such business is actually illegal.”

Regarding Airbnb, Kontorovich said that the company is now trying to get itself off of the UNHRC blacklist by boycotting Jewish West Bank settlements, adding that there is a risk that other companies could follow suit.

He added that it was unclear whether Airbnb would succeed in getting itself removed from the list since it has not boycotted disputed areas of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Deputy Minister of Diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office, Michael Oren commended the “Who Else Profits II” report, stating “This treatment isn’t being handed out to any other country in the world, which means it’s inherently antisemitic.”

A previous report by Kontorovich during the summer of 2017 alleged that the UN Human Rights Council was turning a blind eye to dozens of European companies, which operate in four other areas deemed occupied territory by the UN.

The other occupied areas listed by the report are: Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and Russian-occupied portions of Ukraine.

Kontorovich has accused the UNHRC of formulating a boycott list that “is far too narrow in its scope, and fails to capture the full context and magnitude of business activities that support settlement enterprises in occupied territories.”

The singular focus of the report “undermines both the legal and practical value of the resulting database, and is likely to produce consequences both unexpected and undesired,” wrote Kontorovich. Furthermore, he added that “as a matter of human rights, the council’s focus on Israel is difficult to understand. There are numerous territories around the world currently under belligerent occupation, where the occupying power has... facilitated the movement of settlers.”

“In all these cases, this is done over the vigorous objection of the occupied party and is at odds with its sovereignty or self-determination,” the report said.

Airbnb explained its decision to boycott Jewish settlements in the West Bank (but to still maintain services inside the Green Line) saying, “When we applied our decision-making framework, we concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”

“We know that people will disagree with this decision and appreciate their perspective. This is a controversial issue. There are many strong views as it relates to lands that have been the subject of historic and intense disputes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank,” it continued.

Airbnb added that it has previously boycotted Russian-occupied Crimea, although it did not address other occupied territories.
Kontorovich has called on Airbnb to equally boycott Palestinians in the West Bank if it is going to boycott Jews.

Regarding Ford, the report says that the company, through its local distributor, Minsan Engineering is “a direct and purposeful partner in the Turkish occupation and settlement program in Cyprus,” but that this is ignored by the UNHRC.

The report adds that the same is true about the UNHRC and Caterpillar, which it says has been granted a license to an agency which operates in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. The Post contacted Coca Cola, Ford and Caterpillar, but did not receive a response as of press time.

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