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November 23, 2018 11:03 am

Airbnb and Antisemitism

avatar by Fiamma Nirenstein / JNS.org

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A woman talks on the phone at the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco, California, Aug. 2, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Gabrielle Lurie.

JNS.orgIt’s unprecedented that Airbnb has decided to act as the world’s moral compass by removing all listings of Jewish homes in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.

Their decision is particularly disheartening in light of the fact that Airbnb has not removed a single listing from its platform of properties owned by Turks in Cyprus, Moroccans in Sahara, Chinese in Tibet, or Russians in the Crimea — in other words, the true occupiers in other disputed territories around the world.

When it comes to double standards, Israel is the ideal target for every kind of persecution. The European Union and the United Nations ride on their moral high horses by passing resolutions that exclusively target the Jewish state while ignoring the world’s foremost human-rights abusers, murderers, and dictators. Following their lead, the global online rental website has announced that it will remove approximately 200 apartments belonging to Israeli citizens in Judea and Samaria.

Famous for its popular policies (which were widely publicized in 2016 when Airbnb adopted a number of product and policy changes aimed at fighting discrimination after it faced widespread backlash over hosts refusing to rent to black guests), the company has followed the great antisemitic masters. In a confused but elaborate explanatory statement on its website, Airbnb explained its decision to single out Jewish owners, while terming the area in which these Jews live as “the occupied West Bank.”

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The statement alludes to security, justice, peace, and suffering, and wholeheartedly adheres to the Palestinian narrative, despite the fact that the international legal term to refer to Judea and Samaria is “disputed territories.” Airbnb has become the latest company to join the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This antisemitic movement calls for the total boycott of Israel, a discriminatory act that has already been prohibited by 26 of America’s 50 states.

It cannnot be a coincidence that Airbnb announced its new policy the day before Human Rights Watch — famous for its anti-Israel animus — was set to publish a report examining Israel’s activities in the West Bank. Arvind Ganesan, director of Human Rights Watch’s Business and Human Rights Division, praised the Airbnb move, and urged “other companies to follow suit.”

Saeb Erekat, the so-called senior Palestinian negotiator who denies Israel’s very right to exist and serves as the professional whose job it is to repeatedly refuse every peace proposal Israel has offered in the past 25 years, thanked Airbnb for condemning what he defined as “a colonial occupation.” Yet Erekat has never uttered a word about the human-rights abuses of Iran or Hezbollah in Syria.

Erekat knows perfectly well that efforts to boycott Judea and Samaria are really efforts to boycott all of Israel. The disputed territories are just an excuse. He is not the least bit concerned that BDS has been unmasked as a movement linked to the most rabid antisemitic groups and terror-financing sponsors. Certainly, Airbnb is aware of this, too.

It is simply part of the movement’s intellectually dishonest and antisemitic game when Airbnb couches its decision with efforts to encourage a “lasting peace.” If we carefully peer through this framework, we can see the smiling images of Yasser Arafat, the former Palestinian president and PLO leader; his successor Mahmoud Abbas; and Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. We can see the textbooks used in Palestinian schools that teach children how to hate Jews and how to kill them with guns, knives, cars, and missiles. We can hear Abbas’ declarations, where he unequivocally refuses any efforts to negotiate peace.

A boycott of this kind should lead us back to the option of booking a hotel, rather than aiding the globalist antisemitic game now being played by Airbnb.

Journalist Fiamma Nirenstein was a member of the Italian Parliament (2008-13), where she served as vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Chamber of Deputies, served in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and established and chaired the Committee for the Inquiry Into Anti-Semitism. A founding member of the international Friends of Israel Initiative, she has written 13 books, including “Israel Is Us” (2009). Currently, she is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Translation by Amy Rosenthal.

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