Texas blacklists Airbnb over West Bank settlement boycott

On Friday the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar publicly updated the list of businesses on the state’s “List of Companies that Boycott Israel” to include Airbnb.

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March 3, 2019 00:54
2 minute read.
Texas blacklists Airbnb over West Bank settlement boycott

Texas Republican State Senator Glenn Hegar, one of the sponsor of the abortion bill SB1, speaks during an anti-abortion rally at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, July 8, 2013. The political battle in Texas over proposed restrictions on abortion resumes on Monday with a rally by abortion opponents. (photo credit: MIKE STONE/REUTERS)

 
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The state of Texas has blacklisted the global vacation rental company Airbnb over its boycott of West Bank settlements.

“We welcome this decision very much and we hope that it will be emulated by other states and other countries in the world,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said on Saturday night.

On Friday, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Glenn Hegar, publicly updated the list of businesses on the state’s “List of Companies that Boycott Israel” to include Airbnb.

Texas’s move followed a decision by Florida in January to place Airbnb on its list of scrutinized companies.

Airbnb has a 90-day period to prove that it has not boycotted Israel before any action is taken against it. Under the Texas regulation that governs the list, should the Israel boycott continue, “the state governmental entity shall sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly traded securities of the company, except securities.”

Airbnb said in response, “We unequivocally reject and oppose the BDS movement and are disappointed by the [Texas] decision. There are over 20,000 Airbnb hosts in Israel who open their doors and showcase the best of Israeli hospitality to guests from around the world, which boosts local families, businesses and communities.

"Our community of hosts in Israel has already welcomed more than 1 million guests and we will continue to invest in Israel,” it said.

In the past, Airbnb has said it invested $20 million. It has further explained that its November decision not to list rental properties in West Bank settlements was part of a larger policy with regard to conflict zones, such as South Ossetia and Abkhazia. That policy, however, applies to all listings in those regions, whereas the West Bank ban only applies to Israelis in settlements. Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank can continue to list rentals with Airbnb.

The State of Texas, however, holds that a boycott of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is akin to a boycott of Israel.

The non-governmental organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), welcomed Texas’s decision in a statement on its website.

“The antisemitic BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement is trying to achieve through boycotts what terrorists and hostile nations have failed to achieve with bullets: the end of the modern State of Israel,” CUFI founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee said. “But they will fail, because no matter how much they lie about and demonize the Jewish state, we at CUFI will ensure that conscientious people have the opportunity to learn the truth about the vibrant and democratic nation of Israel.”

“I am extremely proud that my home state of Texas is among those leading the fight to call out Airbnb for its antisemitic policy,” said CUFI action fund chairwoman Sandra Parker. “We are grateful to Comptroller Glenn Hegar, as well as Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney-General Ken Paxton, and Rep. Phil King for their tireless efforts to oppose the BDS movement.”

“We will continue to work with elected officials across the country in order to ensure [that] the abhorrent BDS movement is stymied, and those who acquiesce to their antisemitic demands do not benefit from American tax dollars,” Parker added.

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