One would have thought that boycotting the Jews would have gone out of fashion somewhere around the late 1940s. But one would be mistaken. The boycott has never gone out of style, it has simply mutated into “anti-Zionism”, anti-Israelism, and nowadays, the most radical chic, trendiest boycott of all – boycotting the “settlements”.
We have already seen this with the partially successful boycott of SodaStream which eventually closed its plant in Maaleh Adumim – causing the loss of over 500 jobs to the Palestinians who worked there (so much for caring about Palestinians) – and moved to the Negev.
There have been several other boycott attempts against Israel and/or the “settlements”, aka towns over the fictitious Green Line, some more successful than others.
But the latest boycott has aroused fury in Israel: The tourist home rental organization Airbnb caved in to BDS and has announced it is delisting Israeli (i.e. Jewish) homes over the Green Line:
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.
“Another BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] win!” multiple pro-Palestinian groups jubilantly claimed on social media.
Israeli right-wing lawmakers immediately railed against the decision, urging settler homeowners to take legal action against Airbnb and threatening to limit the organization’s operations in Israel.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said her office was formulating a legal plan to block the move.
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said he planned to speak with senior US officials to see if the move violated American laws against Israeli boycotts that exist in 25 out of 50 states.
“Anti-Israel boycott organizations do not distinguish between the State of Israel and Judea and Samaria. As far as they are concerned, and have openly declared, the entire State of Israel has no right to exist,” Erdan said.
“National conflicts exist all over the world,” he said, so Airbnb “will have to explain why they specifically, and uniquely, chose to implement this political and discriminatory decision in the case of citizens of the State of Israel,” Erdan said.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the US MK Michael Oren said, “Airbnb blacklists Jewish apartments in Judea and Samaria – not Palestinian apartments, not apartments in Turkish occupied Cyprus, not in Moroccan occupied Sahara, not in Tibet or the Crimea.
“Airbnb’s policy is the very definition of antisemitism. No one should use its services,” Oren added.
Of course the Palestinians are delighted, and typically are demanding an even wider boycott. Anything that harms Israel is good for them:
PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed the move, but said the Airbnb statement did not go far enough.
“We reiterate our call upon the UN Human Rights Council to release the database of companies profiting from the Israeli colonial occupation. Israeli settlements are not just an obstacle to peace but defy the very definition of peace,” Erekat said.
Ah, how could we manage without the ineffably smug self-important Human Rights Watch?
Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at the international NGO Human Rights Watch said the move was “an important recognition that such listings can’t square with [Airbnb’s] human rights responsibilities.”
The NGO took credit for the Airbnb decision, which came just days before the group was set to publish a major report on its activities in the settlements.
“For two years, Human Rights Watch has spoken with Airbnb about their brokering of rentals in West Bank settlements, which are illegal under international humanitarian law and for which Palestinian ID holders are effectively barred from entering. We urge other companies to follow suit,” Ganesan said.
I’m trying to figure out how many lies there are in this one sentence.
- Settlements are not illegal under international humanitarian law, they are at most disputed; and
2. Palestinian ID holders are not barred from entering settlements. That is such an outright lie I am sputtering. How did a Palestinian ID holder who worked in a “settlement” murder Ziv Hajbi and Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel Hy’d if Palestinian ID holders were not permitted to enter settlements? How DARE they lie like that??
… “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,” Airbnb said.
The company 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.”
Who made Airbnb the arbiters in the territorial dispute between Israel and the Palestinians? Did they ask the Israeli side for their opinion too? Or did they just stick to the Palestinian side and the antisemitic boycotters?
Meanwhile their ever-so self-righteously “hopeful” aspirations are a load of poppycock. They are pre-judging the outcome of any negotiations and deciding where the borders of Israel should lie.
And of course, they are still listing Palestinian homes in the same area. If the land is disputed, it is disputed between both sides. In other words, this is plain old antisemitism disguised as “right-on” trendy PC.
“Airbnb has deep respect for those views. Our hope is that someday, sooner rather than later, a framework is put in place where the entire global community is aligned so there will be a resolution to this historic conflict and a clear path forward for everybody to follow,” Airbnb said.
“As of today, this is an aspirational hope. People of goodwill have been seeking this goal for decades, but we continue to hope for a durable, lasting peace,” the company added.
Of course Peace Now (should be renamed “Surrender Now) approves of this message. They never met a Jew over the Green Line that they coudl like, and never met a Palestinian they disapproved of.
The Israeli NGO Peace Now said, “Even if the Green Line is invisible to Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] and [Education Minister Naftali] Bennett, the rest of the world distinguishes between Israel and the occupied territories.
“Airbnb is still choosing to support our economy, just not the government’s controversial pet settlement project,” Peace Now said.
Leave it to Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, a genuine expert in international law, to put the matter straight and call out Airbnb for what they are:
Legal expert Eugene Kontorovich said that the decision had nothing to do with a moral stance.
“This is not about disputed territories, as Airbnb has listings in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, Turkish-occupied Cyprus, and more. So it is only Jewish properties in the Jewish homeland that are banned.” Kontorovich is Director of International Law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum.
As Michael Oren is quoted above, the Airbnb decision is discriminatory and even antisemitic. It is not delisting Palestinian apartments over the Green Line, only Israeli (i.e. Jewish) ones. And contrary to their self-righteous claim, Airbnb do indeed list apartments in every other disputed jurisdiction!
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin urged Airbnb to revoke their decision, but meanwhile he called for retaliatory measures against the company:
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin urged Airbnb to walk back the “discriminatory” decision, saying in a statement that he had already instructed his office to draw up measures designed “to limit the company’s activity across the country.”
Levin said he had also instructed his ministry to implement a special program to encourage tourism and accommodation in West Bank settlements.
Levin said “this was a disgraceful and miserable decision, and a disgraceful surrender by the company,” the statement said.
The mayor of the large settlement of Efrat, south of Jerusalem, said Airbnb’s decision was a capitulation to “extremists.”
“The decision does an injustice to Israelis living in [the West Bank], constitutes a surrender to extremists and is a mistake that distances peace,” Oded Revivi said in a statement.
Writer and commentator Laura Ben David announced that she will be deleting her Airbnb account in retaliation:
Buh-bye Airbnb… And to think I was about to start managing apartments through them 😳
There are conflicts all over the world. Why does Airbnb feel the need to make a political statement all of a sudden? Call it what you want but when you single out Jewish business to boycott – and only Jewish business – it’s #antisemitism.
Head of NGO Monitor Gerald Steinberg noted:
In case you need actual proof, here are the listings from Gaza – yes, the terrorist controlled Gaza.
Prof. William Jacobson from Legal Insurrection also challenges Airbnb on their discriminatory boycott:
This policy on disputed territories raises several questions about why Jews are being singled out. For example, you can rent through Airbnb in occupied Tibet.
It’s pretty clear that when Airbnb says “disputed territories,” what is means is “disputed territories” controlled by Jews.
I emailed Airbnb’s press office the following questions:
With regard to the announcement regarding Israeli Settlements, https://press.airbnb.com/listings-in-disputed-regions/ , please respond to the following questions:
1. Are only Jewish homes in West Bank subject to this ban, or does it include non-Jewish (Palestinian) homes in the West Bank?
2. Does it cover the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, or any part of “East” Jerusalem?
3. Can you name any other area that is subject to ban under your disputed territories policy other than Jewish homes in the West Bank?
As Prof. Jacobson acidly notes:
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging people to boycott Airbnb following its boycott of Jews in Judea and Samaria:
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish Human Rights NGO is urging its 400,000 constituent members and Jews the world over to boycott Airbnb after its CEO announced it will no longer allow its services to be used by Jewish residents on the West Bank.
“This is double standard anti-Semitism pure and simple. Nowhere else on the planet has Airbnb stopped making its service available in disputed territories, except Judea and Samaria,” said Rabbis Marvin Hier and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC Founder and Dean and Associate Dean and Director, Global Social Action Agenda.
“To be clear, no Israeli leader, left, right, or center, would ever return to the indefensible ‘Auschwitz borders,’ a term coined by the founder of Israel’s peace movement, the late Israeli Foreign Minister, Abba Eban,” they added.
“We take note that Airbnb has no problem doing business in the territory of the Palestinian Authority, which names schools and shopping centers in honor of mass murderers who have killed innocent civilians and have a ‘pay to slay’ policy when it comes to killing Jews.
If you need alternatives to Airbnb, here is a partial list of other options: 9 Airbnb Alternatives.
It is utterly disgraceful that an international enterprise sees fit to interfere in Israeli politics and take it upon themselves to decide which territories are “illegal” for Jews and which are permitted.
Despite all their righteous declarations that they feel a “responsibility”, blather about human rights, and express concern about international law, the sole effect of their declaration is blatant antisemitism.
If that’s how they feel at least they should be honest about it.