November 25, 2018: Airbnb in Bethlehem

Our readers have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Regarding “Airbnb caves to BDS, nixes settlement listings” (November 20), some 2,000 years ago, a pair of Jewish “settlers” was denied accommodation at an inn. Mary and Joseph never met a “Palestinian” or heard a single word of Arabic.
With Christmas only weeks away, Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, has chosen to re-enact the Nativity and tell pilgrims to go sleep in a manger. I’ll make a wild guess that “Brian Chesky” is not an Apache name – or Navajo, or Sioux. We Jews were already the indigenous people (Indians, blacks, aborigines) of Israel for 3,000 years before his settler parents arrived from Poland and Italy to steal America from its natives.
If he is truly determined to remove Airbnb listings for “disputed territories,” he has it wrong. He should start with Alsace, Corsica, Crimea, the Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Gibraltar, Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico, Tahiti, Tibet, Western Sahara – and perhaps the United States itself.
Ramat Gan
Judea and Samaria, now called the West Bank, were the home of three men whom my husband – a 94th Infantry rifleman held prisoner in Germany’s infamous Stalag 11b – met in 1944.
As he entered the British compound in order to trade Red Cross cigarettes for bread (his buddies were dying of starvation and amoebic dysentery), he heard three men speaking Hebrew. Amazed at hearing Hebrew in a German POW camp, he asked who they were.
“We are from Samaria in the Holy Land,” they said. My husband noticed the word PALESTINE sewn on the army shirts they had worn since being captured in Tabruk in 1941. They had volunteered with the British, their occupiers, to defeat Hitler; after being captured, they were shipped to Germany for incarceration. Like my husband, they were MIAs.
Airbnb, these are the real Palestinians – the ancient people of Israel, which the Romans called Philistia; Jews living in a land and place that you dispute is Jewish. They are the people you deny in your unfair decision to ignore their history and homeland.
The propaganda of groups who would destroy us and our rights to our ancient land has stolen your intelligence and morality. Restore the eligibility of the West Bank to its true and righteous status – the Land of Israel – and recognize its legitimacy for your customers.
Otherwise, you fall into the trap of those who deceive you for their own egregious gain.
Needham, MA
Hooray for Airbnb’s not listing West Bank properties! I expressed my concerns about listing these properties to Airbnb several dozen times. I won’t fool myself believing Airbnb listened to me; I’ll celebrate Airbnb’s decision.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin is laughable, saying, “[Airbnb] will have to compensate [apartment owners] for the damage it does to them.” (November 20)
What damage? Nobody is required to use or make a living on Airbnb; how can there be damage? Is the Israeli government truly going to waste millions of shekels to sue Airbnb?
What boycott? Settlements are in “disputed” or “occupied” territory, depending on one’s vocabulary; there’s no boycott against Israel here... or has Israel annexed the West Bank?
What antisemitism? De-listing properties of Diaspora-Jewish or Israeli-Jewish owners is antisemitism; delisting properties in “disputed” or “occupied” territory is merely anti-occupation.
Levin makes one correct statement: Settlers can “move to other platforms.” Let them move. Nobody will get hurt. But he becomes delusional and petty, noting, “It will also teach a lesson to those who want to boycott us.” Really? Loss of 200 West Bank properties would dent Airbnb’s $2.6-billion revenue [2017]? Nobody would notice.
Airbnb, it’s about time! Yes, I’m Jewish and no, I do not support BDS.
O’Connor, Australia
Khashoggi was no Eichmann
In “Shedding light on the Saudi-Turkey rift” (November 21), Mike Evans defends the Saudi crown prince in the matter of the murder of Jamel Khashoggi, accepting the preposterous assertion that it was an operation to kidnap him gone wrong that the crown prince had nothing to do with. He wrote the same things in another article that appeared in the November 5 Jerusalem Post.
In both articles, he recounts that he personally told the crown prince that what he had done was quite understandable since it was exactly what Israel had done when Isser Harel was sent to kidnap Adolph Eichmann in 1960, resulting in his execution.
I find it extremely offensive to make such a comparison. Khashoggi was no Eichmann. He was a brave journalist who dared to say something that offended the crown prince.
There is no comparison between Israel’s action bringing a Nazi mass murderer to justice and Saudi Arabia’s action against an honest critic of the regime. It defames Harel to compare him to the crown prince and defames Israel to compare its actions to Saudi Arabia’s.
Evans may be a lover and supporter of Israel, but that does not give him the right to make statements of this sort. I am at a loss to understand how a believing Evangelist can defend actions of this sort that are in complete defiance of the morals and ethics that are at the heart of both Christianity and Judaism.
Since Evans has also proclaimed President Donald Trump to be another Cyrus, perhaps I should not be so astonished, for in that case as well Evans has ignored the many moral and ethical failings of that leader that are also in stark contrast to the teachings of Scripture.
Violence in the air?
I was horrified by the report “Ultra-Orthodox passengers assault staff on El Al flight over Shabbat” (November 18), much of which was contradicted subsequently in “‘We were kidnapped by El Al’ say passengers on horror flight from New York” (November 19).
It seems there were angry exchanges between many passengers, not specifically the “ultra-Orthodox” and the cabin crew. At most, one stewardess was jostled.
If the incident had taken place on any other airline and the headline had “Jewish” in place of “ultra-Orthodox,” it would rightly have been described as antisemitic.
El Al initially alleged that “haredi fliers had been violent,” whereas “numerous passengers stated subsequently that there had been no violence at all, with many blaming the late arrival of the cabin crew to the airport for the severe delay and failure to reach Israel on time.”
It is no excuse that this was “due to snow storms” since these were forecast and the passengers managed to arrive on time.
If “the flight captain announced that the plane was returning to the gate to allow anyone who wanted to disembark to do so, but then swiftly made its way to the runway and took off,” he should be dismissed for unprofessional behavior.
El Al must apologize, offer those stranded over Shabbat a full refund and make sure this never happens again.
Salford, England
Sarsour notes
Regarding “Women’s March head says current organizers ‘allowing antisemitism’” (November 21), some progressive Jews point to Linda Sarsour’s fundraising for funerals of victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and on behalf of a vandalized Jewish cemetery as evidence that, in her words, “...we see you, we love you, and we are fighting with you.”
Ah, those lovable, silent Jewish dead.
Sarsour has no shame about using our Jewish dead for political, virtue-signaling optics. But Zionism, national independence for living Jews and for a living Jewish future, is “creepy,” according to Sarsour.
She said, “We should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting antisemitism,” but she has been very clear about her contempt for Zionism, our right to be a free people in our own (tiny) land, while Palestinian national aspirations have never been disparaged as “creepy” by Sarsour.
“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking antisemitism” – attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Davis, California
There is something tragically inauthentic permeating Linda Sarsour’s insubstantial, hollow apology for her antisemitic rhetoric. It begins with her use of “we” in her apology, as though she cannot bear to take personal responsibility for her hate-filled statements.
It continues with the apology’s focus on the Jewish and LGBTQ members of The Women’s March, as though she really doesn’t care about the harm caused by her antisemitism to anyone with a different ideology.
And it culminates with what she omitted – for example any statements indicating that she understands the hateful nature of the classic antisemitic smears she voiced; about supposed dual loyalties or conspiratorial control.
Her obviously grudging, pseudo-apologetic utterance left me cold. So does her continuing status as a leader of The Women’s March.
Williamsville, New York
More UN myopia
According to a report written by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) personnel have spotted 550 Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace in a four-month period. (“UN to Israel: Stop violating Lebanese airspace,” November 23.) These flights are reported as violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which specifies that no military equipment or personnel may enter southern Lebanon, except the Lebanese Army.
However, when Hezbollah fighters move freely throughout Lebanon’s south, saturating the region with ordnance (rockets, missiles, launchers, and etc.), facts known to any 15-year old child living in that area, UNIFIL soldiers suddenly go blind, unable to see such activity. Perhaps their heads are fixed skyward in search of Israeli aircraft and, thus, unable to view what transpires on the ground.
More likely, they dare not interfere with Hezbollah out of fear and impotence, which characterize UN “peacekeepers” and observers in the Middle East. (Note how they abandoned their positions in southern Syria and the Sinai when threatened.)
In a word, they are useless. Only the naive or those desperate to find guarantors for a truce or peace treaty would so much as entertain the thought of employing a UN force. (An example is Tsipi Livni, who will pass through her old age claiming UNSC 1701 a success.)
Guterres, in his prejudicial report, avers the UN “is not in a position to substantiate [allegations of illegal arms transfers to  non-state armed groups in Lebanon],” meaning Iranian movement of ordnance from Syria into Lebanon. Perhaps, he should have consulted groups of 15-year-old children before writing.
As for Israeli aerial observation of Lebanon for the purpose of intelligence gathering, someone please remind the Secretary-General that Lebanon is still in a state of war with Israel and Hezbollah is arming and training in preparation to carry out its aim of destroying Israel, necessitating the sorties.
The secretary-general might best rethink his risible demand that Hezbollah disarm, which is just as unrealistic as demanding that Israel cease actions necessary for its self-defense.
Other Gaza options
Regarding “How Israel’s choices for Gaza affect American plans in the Middle East” (November 20), the writer misleads readers by telling them that the only options are 1) “Cutting the grass” at intervals or 2) a full scale invasion to get rid of Hamas, and then being responsible for dealing with two million extra hostile Arabs.
There is a way of greatly cutting down Hamas’s military capabilities, which could lead the population there to realize that there are other options available that could improve their living conditions.
It’s time to try something new: cut the Gaza Strip into two. The IDF should plan it well in advance. Where, how wide and how to defend it. Our army has taken on more difficult tasks in the past.
If the locals get the message and gradually adopt more peaceful activities, the government could decide to withdraw eventually.
The other options have not worked too well.
Yonah Jeremy Bob’s analysis (“In the Crossfire,” September 23) that the IDF is somehow not sure whether the Gaza campaign is a law enforcement issue or an armed conflict is perplexing.
Law enforcement involves the sovereign seeking to enforce its laws within its legal boundaries. Unless the doctrine of hot pursuit is applicable, law enforcement activity would stop at the border of the sovereign.
To the extent that the situation in Gaza involves activity from outside of Israel’s borders, I do not understand how IDF legal advisers can conclude that this might be a law enforcement situation.
There is only one conclusion: Israel is involved in an armed conflict and should be free to act to defend its land and its civilians in accordance with the more aggressive actions associated with an armed conflict.
Beit Shemesh
How right Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett is that the IDF is more afraid of the law than of Hamas. What he said is so right. Every soldier that goes to battle needs to take a lawyer with him. The attorney-general is concerned only about working in a legal framework to defeat our foes, so our soldiers are constantly worried about consequences if they take a wrong step.
What other soldiers in the world care so much about what anyone might say about them when they go to battle?
Petah Tikva
Too-high standard
While no one can disagree with the conclusion of your editorial “Corrupt politics” (November 21), that “Israelis deserve politicians of the highest moral principles,” the concern is that if such a standard were implemented, too many government positions would remain unfilled.
Beit Shemesh