The company behind the popular online marketplace for renting your home, Airbnb, has has decided to remove rental listings from homes in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who heads the government’s response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement blasted them for this decision, calling its founders ”racist”.
Airbnb’s move came just one day before Human Rights Watch was scheduled to release a report on home rentals facilitated by Airbnb and Booking.com in the West Bank, which the UN considers to be illegally occupied by Israel.
Airbnb’s practice of allowing listings in the West Bank has been a controversial issue for years, and advocates for Palestinians have decried the practice. Its discontinuation is seen widely as a win for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to inspire boycotts against the state of Israel and Israeli companies that profit off of ”occupied territories”.
Erdan called on former hosts on the platform to band together and sue Airbnb following the announcement of the company’s decision. He also promised to complain to senior officials in the US and ask them to check whether Airbnb’s move violates laws against boycotting Israel that exist in over 25 states.
In Erdan’s letter to the governors of Illinois, New York, Florida, Missouri and California, he said Airbnb had adopted “the anti-Semitic practices and narrative of the boycott movement.” Of the five states the governors represent, four have laws against the BDS movement, the exception being Missouri. Airbnb is headquartered in California.
According to the Israeli TV news outlet Kan, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner requested the state’s investment board to consider divesting from Airbnb, while Florida’s incoming Governor Ron DeSantis vowed to take similar action.
Erdan’s letter forebears a government-wide Israeli response to the de-listings from an inter-ministerial committee comprising officials from Erdan’s Strategic Affairs Ministry as well as the ministries for foreign affairs, tourism, justice, finance and economy.
Sadly, Airbnb has rendered itself politically motivated and involved in a most partisan manner, singling out Israel only. It is supporting and sanctioning an openly hostile movement that is intent on causing economic and cultural damage to Israel and aligning itself with hostile organizations and groups supporting acts of violence and terror against Israel.
The fact that Airbnb has allowed itself to be manipulated and pressured into singling out Israel and joining a boycott of Israel’s towns and villages in the West Bank is regrettable.