Airbnb apartment (Illustrative).
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Airbnb is defending its decision to delist properties owned by Israelis/Jews in Judea/Samaria (West Bank) with their defense as feeble as their decision is bigoted. As a college professor for 31 years, I have heard my fair share of flawed logic and lame excuses, but never as ludicrous as those offered by Airbnb, a company with aspirations of earning the necessary investor trust to launch an IPO and go public in the next few months.
In a recent interview, Airbnb spokesman Chris Lehane said, with a straight face, that Airbnb’s exclusion of Jewish homes, and only Jewish homes, isn’t antisemitic or anti-Israel because the company doesn’t discriminate against all Jews. He touts the fact that the company is still listing properties in other parts of Israel. In other words, Airbnb doesn’t always discriminate against Jews.
When is it justified to say we discriminate only in location A and not location B? Would we support a company that employs gay people in San Francisco but not in Alabama? I read his statement and recalled the most outrageous excuse I ever heard to explain cheating on an exam. “I don’t cheat on all my exams.” That nonsensical excuse didn’t absolve the student, and it certainly doesn’t absolve Airbnb.
Airbnb’s second excuse was as flimsy as the first. They make the point that international hotel chains don’t operate the West Bank. Again, it reminds me of the college student whose excuse is that everyone else does it. There is a not-so-minor flaw here: Hiltons and Hyatts don’t have hotels in other disputed areas. That is true. However, Airbnb is not an international hotel chain! Airbnb is an online service for private homeowners to list, and its competitors such as booking.com do not make the religious distinction when listing in Judea/Samaria (West Bank.)
After attempts at convoluted logic, Airbnb resorts to outright fabrication in claiming that targeting Jewish/Israeli-owned properties is part of its framework, which they are “applying to disputed territories globally.”
Even the most truth-challenged student never excused cheating by saying that it was acceptable in other classes. So far, Airbnb has not pulled out in other regions where territory is disputed. Should Airbnb opt to cover up for their discriminatory policy against Jews and designate another spot on the planet where they will not list, it is highly unlikely that they will run a religion/ethnic test anywhere else. For example, I seriously doubt that if Airbnb delists Western Sahara, the company will do a demographic analysis to determine which homes are owned by villagers who stem from Morocco or have Polisarion descent. Or perhaps Airbnb will exit from its listings in northern Cyprus, which was invaded by Turkey. They certainly will not check the ethnic identity, Turkish or Greek, of the homeowners.
There is no way to implement the Airbnb policy than with an ethnic/religious test of villages. This village is Jewish, no listings. That village is not Jewish, list away! To call this action anything but antisemitism is absurd.
Airbnb announced that it will discriminate against Jews and only Jews and now is running for cover with ridiculous justifications: We don’t always discriminate. Everyone does it. We are not really singling out Israelis/Jews. It is small wonder that governors and other legislators are beginning to speak out against endangering their states by investing in Airbnb if/when it becomes publicly traded. Airbnb will need to disclose its policies and censures by state, federal, and municipal officials to prospective investors. Wise investors will think twice before committing to a company whose actions have earned it condemnation from diverse institutions and governments. Wise investors will also be hesitant to enter into business with a company that exhibits bigotry and defends the bigotry by insulting our intelligence.
The writer is the Midwest executive director of StandWithUs, an international Israel education organization. PeggyS@StandWithUs.com
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