The popular hospitality service Airbnb has picked sides when the company announced it would not allow listings in Judea and Samaria, both of which are nestled in a disputed swath of land known as the West Bank.
“We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians,” a statement on Airbnb’s website reads.
Dr. Michael Oren, an American-born Israeli historian and Jewish politician, also highlighted the hypocrisy of the decision, noting Airbnb continues to allow listings in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, Moroccan-occupied Sahara, Chinese-occupied Tibet and Russian-occupied Crimea. Airbnb also has listings in over a dozen disputed territories around the world.
According to The Associated Press, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan echoed Oren’s comments with a statement of his own, saying, “National conflicts exist all over the world. The senior management of 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.”
Law professor Eugene Kontorovich of George Mason University pointed out Airbnb plans to specifically target “Israeli settlements” — not Arab settlements — in the West Bank, revealing the new policy to be a clear exercise in discrimination.
Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization, praised Airbnb, but said the hospitality business just didn’t go far enough.
“We reiterate our call upon the U.N. Human Rights Council to release the database of companies profiting from the Israeli colonial occupation,” he said, according to The Jerusalem Post. “Israeli settlements are not just an obstacle to peace, but defy the very definition of peace.”
“The discriminatory nature of this decision is only rivaled by the degree of sheer ignorance that went into it. Given the fact that in July of 2000, former Israeli Prime Ehud Barak had offered the Palestinians 92 percent of the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, if you will, and the Palestinians walked away from the table,” Sarah Stern, founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), told JNS. “The response came a few months later in the form of a renewed intifada.
“Yet the Israelis are the ones that are being punished by companies such as Airbnb,” she continued. “When Israel and Israelis are being held to a double standard that no one else in the world could be expected to meet, there is one and only one word for this: anti-Semitism.”
The actions by Airbnb are part boycott, divest and sanction which pressures companies and countries to stop doing business with Israel, even when that boycott hurts Arabs working at Israeli owned companies.