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January 30, 2019 11:07 am

Florida Takes Action Against Airbnb Amid Its Boycott of West Bank Properties

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis giving a speech on Jan. 15, 2019, at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, calling for increased Jewish day school security funding, in addition to touting pro-Israel initiatives. Photo: Gov. Ron DeSantis Press Office.

JNS.org – Florida has enacted sanctions against Airbnb, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday, following statements that he made after becoming governor earlier this month, in response to the company’s decision last year to boycott Judea and Samaria.

“Israel has had to face scrutiny like no other country in history has ever had to face. Airbnb made a conscious decision to discriminate against the Jewish people, and as governor, I have an obligation to oppose policies that unfairly target the world’s only Jewish state and our greatest ally in the Middle East,” said Ron DeSantis. “Our action today solidifies the State of Florida’s resolve to stand with Israel, and if Airbnb does not denounce their previous policy of discrimination, we may be compelled to explore additional action.”

This decision placed Airbnb on the state’s scrutinized companies list, prohibiting state contractors from doing business with the online marketplace and hospitality service.

On Jan. 17, Airbnb general counsel Robert Chestnut wrote to the State Board of Administration that the firm has a “framework for disputed territories in an ongoing manner around the world.”

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“This is a difficult issue, and Airbnb knows that some people may disagree with this decision and the company appreciates their perspective,” wrote Chestnut. “The company is open to conversations about the topic and continues to engage and meet with those who have a different perspective.”

According to The Orlando Sentinel, “on Monday, an Airbnb official was in Tallahassee trying to lobby members of the state’s cabinet as the platform sent out a news release saying it had generated more than $89.5 million in state and local taxes in 2018 in Florida, up from $45.7 million the prior year.”

Israel’s deputy counsel general in Miami, Guy Gilady, was at the cabinet meeting and labeled the Airbnb West Bank decision as “shameful.”

“Airbnb is applying an obvious double standard towards Israel and Israelis, which is far removed from the policy that we recognize by any fair-minded observer as objective and non-discriminatory,” she said.

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