Airbnb decision to remove West Bank listings causes social media outrage

By
November 20, 2018 15:18
THE TEL AVIV skyline; the area around the city is home to many Israeli start-ups

THE TEL AVIV skyline. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The Israeli public and internet users worldwide were outraged over Airbnb's decision to remove all listings in Jewish settlements in the West Bank on Monday.

"Airbnb blacklists Jewish apartments in Judea and Samaria - not Palestinian apartments, not apartments in Turkish occupied Cyprus, in Moroccan occupied Sahara, not in Tibet or the Crimea," former Israel Ambassador to the United States and Yesh Atid MK Michael Oren wrote on Twitter.

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"Airbnb’s policy is the very definition of antisemitism. No one should use its services," he wrote, effectively calling for a counter-boycott of Airbnb.


Similarly, internet users worldwide took to social media and announced that they were either removing their own listing from the apartment rental platform or ceasing to use the service to rent assets all over the world.

"Sorry @Airbnb. You've lost me as a customer over your discriminatory, racist & Antisemitic policy with #Israeli boycott! Shame on you!" executive director of the Israeli-Jewish Congress in Israel and human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky wrote.


Author and Executive Editor of the political journalism website Washington Examiner Philip Klein wrote that it was "Time to boycott @Airbnb - I don’t do business with companies that blatantly descriminate against Jews."


"Buh-bye @Airbnb! And to think I was about to start managing apartments through them. Call it what you want but when you boycott Jewish business - and only Jewish business - it's #antisemitism," writer and speaker Laura Ben-David wrote on Twitter.


Host of Host: Breitbart News Tonight, writer and lawyer Joel Pollak wrote: "Just deactivated my @Airbnb account. The answer to absurd boycotts of Israel is to boycott the boycotters. Many of the areas affected will be part of Israel in any peace deal. I’d rather pay more in a hotel than subsidize antisemitism or support Palestinian terror. #BoycottAirbnb


In response to Pollak, columnist and editor Bethany Mandel commented that "I'm doing the same @airbnb. We got a lovely condo in Hawaii a few years ago on your site, and we need apartments now that we travel with kids, but there are other players out there."

Conservative commentator Dan Bongino wrote: "Unreal. No @Airbnb for me. Read this," pointing to an article previously posted by prominent conservative political commentator and writer Ben Shapiro which calls Airbnb's decision "antisemitic."

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin called the boycott "racist" and "discriminating."


"We are going to restrict the ability of Airbnb to work here. If you have a policy of discrimination against Israelis, you cannot earn money here in Israel. We'll probably put a very high tax here in Israel on the activity of Airbnb," he elaborated.

BDS groups celebrated the move. “Another BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] win!” multiple pro-Palestinian groups jubilantly claimed on social media.

Airbnb agreed to boycott West Bank settlements and announced plans Monday to remove settler listings from its popular website of temporary rentals in 191 countries.

The platform posted a notice about the policy change on its website, explaining that at issue were some 200 listings. It noted that it had wrestled with the pros and cons of the situation before coming to a decision.

“There are conflicting views regarding whether companies should be doing business in the occupied territories, which are the subject of historical disputes between Israelis and Palestinians,” the company said.

“We spent considerable time speaking to various experts, including those who have criticized our previous approach, about this matter. As a global platform operating in 191 countries and regions and more than 81,000 cities, we must consider the impact we have and act responsibly."

The company also explained that it had developed a case-by-case framework that it planned to follow in situations of territorial dispute, which included consideration of whether the listing of such properties contributed to “existing human suffering” and had a “direct connection to the larger dispute in the region.”

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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