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Airbnb denies Israeli claims that company is reversing West Bank settlement ban

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Airbnb is denying claims by Israel’s tourism minister that the company was going to reverse its November decision to remove listings in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said in a Facebook post on Monday that following meetings with Israeli government officials, Airbnb would not be implementing its November decision. He hailed the move as a “step in the right direction.”

Several Israeli media outlets also made similar claims, quoting a Hebrew statement sent out by an Israeli Airbnb representative that said “our policy will not be implemented.”

But in a statement released later on Monday afternoon, Airbnb said the comments were “inaccurate,” adding that the company is “developing the tools needed to implement our policy and that process includes continuing our dialogue with the Government of Israel and other stakeholders.”

In the statement, Airbnb also expressed its “unequivocal rejection of the BDS movement” (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and its “commitment to develop its business in Israel.”

Airbnb announced on November 19th that it would be removing some 200 listings in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

At the time, Airbnb said in a statement that “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.”

“Many in the global community have stated that companies should not do business here because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced,” the statement said.

Since the November decision, Airbnb has face major backlash from Israel and its supporters, accusing the company of anti-Semitism and discrimination.

According to reports, Airbnb is now facing threats of boycotts from several US cities, and several U.S. states are researching whether the company has broken state laws by prohibiting the listings in settlements.

Tourism Minister Levin threatened at the time to take legal action against the company in both the US and Israel, and said that his ministry was preparing immediate measures to limit Airbnb’s activities across Israel.

Earlier this month, Mondoweiss learned that Palestinians in the West Bank were being prevented from posting new listings on the website.

Both a US and Israeli customer service representative told Mondoweiss at the time that as per company orders, they were not approving any listing requests coming out of the West Bank — both Palestinian and Israeli alike.

Airbnb has not responded to several requests for comment from Mondoweiss.

An estimated 500,000 – 600,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements and outposts across the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Golan Heights. Those settlements are considered illegal under international law.

Airbnb and other rental companies like it have long been criticized by the BDS movement for their activities in settlements and for profiting off the occupation.

Israeli settlements, many of which are built on privately-owned Palestinian land, are seen as a major obstacle to peace in the region.

Despite the changes happening to Airbnb’s operations in the “disputed territory” of the West Bank, the company has continued to operate in Israeli occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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12 Responses

  1. Jackdaw on December 18, 2018, 1:18 pm

    Airbnb executive goes the extra mile and visits the settlements his company is boycotting.

    “Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.”

    • eljay on December 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

      || Jackdaw: … “Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.” ||

      There’s no need to walk in the moccasins he stole before you criticize the thief.

      • Jackdaw on December 18, 2018, 5:22 pm

        Oh, see Dee!

      • eljay on December 18, 2018, 8:05 pm

        || Jackdaw: Oh, see Dee! ||

        Yes, you Zionists are obsessively compulsive about your particular brand of evil.

    • John O on December 18, 2018, 2:24 pm

      That way, you’ll be a mile away from him – and you’ll have his moccasins.

    • Marnie on December 19, 2018, 12:19 am

      I believe you meant to say ‘Crocs’.

      eljay – ‘Yes, you Zionists are obsessively compulsive about your particular brand of evil.’

      Yes they are and you know it cost a roomful of shekels to buy just the right rabbi who’d provide the perfect hechsher to make zionist brand racism a class all it’s very own and at the same time forgiving all the sins of the users! Is it good for the jews? Just ask jack’d!

      • Mooser on December 19, 2018, 3:17 pm

        ” Is it good for the jews? “

        You have to ask? Why, if organized Judaism can alienate everybody except the 100% Likud Zionist, Judaism will be 100% Zionist!

        Who could refuse 100% (or near enough as to make no difference) of Jews anything? That was the big discovery which led to the deproselytizing movement in Judaism: percentages matter much more than numbers.

  2. Ossinev on December 18, 2018, 2:36 pm

    No brainer. Do not use AirBnb anywhere / anyhow until and if they make it 100% clear that they are not offering or promoting accommodation in stolen Palestinian and Syrian land.

  3. Marnie on December 19, 2018, 12:13 am

    ‘Tourism Minister Levin threatened at the time to take legal action against the company in both the US and Israel, and said that his ministry was preparing immediate measures to limit Airbnb’s activities across Israel.’

    There must be a ton of shekelim to burn on frivolous lawsuits such as this, the one against Lordes, etc. The zionist state certainly doesn’t need any more financial aid from it’s favorite gentile, the united states.

  4. Dan From Away on December 19, 2018, 6:05 am

    I’m so confused.

    From MW:

    “According to reports, Airbnb is now facing threats of boycotts from several US cities, and several U.S. states are researching whether the company has broken state laws by prohibiting the listings in settlements.

    Tourism Minister Levin threatened at the time to take legal action against the company in both the US and Israel, and said that his ministry was preparing immediate measures to limit Airbnb’s activities across Israel.”

    If Israel launches a boycott of Airbnb in the US would it be in violation of the AIPAC-sponsored “Israel Anti-Boycott Law” that was roundly trounced by the Washington Post editorial board in today’s edition? WTF?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/18/opinion/editorials/israel-bds.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    US Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md), ever-obsequious to Zionism, is trying an end run around public review of his pet bill:

    From today’s Washington Post:

    “In a properly functioning Congress, a matter of such moment would be openly debated. Instead, Mr. Cardin and Mr. Portman are trying to tack the B.D.S. provision onto the lame-duck spending bill, meaning it could by enacted into law in the 11th-hour crush to keep the government fully open.”

    The next time any hasbarist questions the morality of someone voicing criticism of political Zionism/Israel by demanding to know why that critic is not equally incensed by the violations of human rights in say, Burma or North Korea…we should respond by referring to these articles and say:

    “Because neither Burma nor North Korea have inveigled themselves (yet) into the fabric of our political life and used that access to remove, restrict or outlaw our long cherished Constitutional rights”.

    BDS is unstoppable and Zionists know this. Their support of the Israel Anti-Boycott Law demonstrates how desperate Zionism has become. That desperation is now hollowing out the political gains Zionism worked so hard over the past decades to establish in Congress.

    Recall that there was a time when Zionists had only to wave a royal finger for a bill to be passed: now it has to hide this “critical” legislation onto a lame-duck spending bill in the dark of night…and it might not even pass.

    Recall also that there was a time when Zionists loved boycotts:

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/poster/do-you-drink-pepsi

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/poster/link-us-ussr-trade-with-emigration

    Fascinating to think what the headlines will be if SCOTUS, which has an ACLU-sponsored BDS case on its docket, finds for the (SCOTUS-established … see NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co.) tradition of recognizing boycotts as a protected form of free speech and declares the 20+ state level anti-BDS laws unconstitutional.

    Got popcorn?

    DJW

    • RoHa on December 19, 2018, 11:57 pm

      Not entirely relevant to the issues, but I do sometimes find myself distracted by some of the acronyms. They evoke quite different ideas from the intended meanings.

      ACLU – an obscure anatomical term for an obscure bit of anatomy.

      AIPAC – cunningly folded cardboard and cellophane, probably filled with doughnuts

      SCOTUS – a mediaeval scholastic philosopher

      POTUS – the scale of measurement of the grass-cutting power of lawnmowers.

      FLOTUS – something children play with in swimming pools

      ADL and BDS – not discussed on family websites.

  5. Dan From Away on December 19, 2018, 3:42 pm

    oops my bad…this editorial was not from the Washington Post…it was from the NYT.

    DJW

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