Pence calls out Airbnb over settlements boycott

Addressing the Israeli-American Council at its conference in Florida, Pence said that the tech giant's decision was "wrong" and amounts to a boycott of the Jewish state.

December 1, 2018 18:27
1 minute read.
US Vice President Mike Pence addresses AIPAC, March 2018

US Vice President Mike Pence addresses AIPAC, March 2018. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)


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WASHINGTON – Vice President Mike Pence issued the first White House response on Friday to Airbnb’s decision to delist Jewish rental properties in the West Bank, marking an escalation of the standoff with one of San Francisco’s largest service companies.

Addressing the Israeli-American Council at its conference in Florida, Pence said that the tech giant's decision was "wrong" and amounts to a boycott of the Jewish state– possibly exposing the company to legal jeopardy.

“In the wake of Airbnb’s decision to ban Jewish homes in Jerusalem and the West Bank, we made it clear the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is wrong, and it has no place in the free enterprise of the United States of America,” Pence told the group.

Airbnb, an online marketplace for property rentals, announced last month that it would no longer list settler properties out of concern that its market was pouring fuel on the conflict. Human Rights Watch lobbied Airbnb for more than two years to make the move, asserting that Jewish West Bank residents have a unique ability to own property in the area and thus profit from Israel’s presence there.

But Israeli officials claimed Airbnb’s policy was discriminatory against Jews and was in line with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, viewed widely in Israel and the US as an antisemitic campaign. Knesset members wrote to state and local officials in the US, urging them to take action against the company utilizing existing state laws.

And several have.

Illinois’s governor Bruce Rauner last week said he was urging an investigation, and other politicians of states with anti-BDS laws have vowed to look into the move.

Pence also touted the administration’s Israel policies at the IAC gathering and insisted they were non-partisan.

“Support for the Jewish State is not a partisan issue, it is an American issue,” Pence said.

He offered no detailed insight into the administration’s upcoming plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, but did state that it would “recognize what is negotiable and what is not,” in defense of the administration’s decision to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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