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April 9, 2019 8:34 pm

Jewish Groups Hail Airbnb’s Decision to End Discrimination Against Jewish Hosts in West Bank

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A general view picture shows houses in the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, in the West Bank February 15, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo.

Jewish advocacy groups lauded Airbnb’s decision on Tuesday to end its blacklist of Jewish-owned properties located in the West Bank.

The global vacation rental giant faced widespread criticism for its decision last November to de-list Jewish rentals in the disputed territory, and received praise from the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Airbnb did not de-list Arab-owned properties in the West Bank.

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chairman Arthur Stark and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein said Airbnb had contacted them directly to announce its change of policy. They also praised Airbnb’s decision that the profits from these rentals would go to humanitarian organizations.

“This is a critical decision given the high visibility of Airbnb and the attention given to its earlier announcement,” they said. “The concern was that it was not only discriminatory but that it would set a precedent for other companies and be portrayed as an endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Their clear repudiation of the BDS efforts was highlighted in their statement, which specified, ‘Airbnb has always opposed the BDS movement. Airbnb has never boycotted Israel, Israeli businesses, or the more than 20,000 Israeli hosts who are active on the Airbnb platform.’”

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“We have had ongoing meetings and communication with leaders of Airbnb as well as with public officials who have notified them of the negative implications of their announced policy for the company,” they added. “Several governors and other officials indicated that they could no longer do business with them if the policy was pursued.”

“We also appreciate the intervention by legislators at the federal and state levels and the numerous protests filed by prominent personalities and governmental leaders,” they stated. “We believe the steps Airbnb has taken both in resolving the legal challenges and clearly stating its rejections of the announced policy removes the impediment to doing business with the company and underscores the counterproductive nature of discriminatory measures and boycotts.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, who also met privately with top Airbnb executives, warmly praised the company’s decision.  “We appreciate that Airbnb and [company CEO] Brian Chesky listened to us and the wider community, and course-corrected on how they implement their listing policy,” Greenblatt said in a statement emailed to The Algemeiner. “We also welcome their clear rejection of BDS and embrace of the Israeli market.”

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center announced in a press statement that it was “pleased that the company has rescinded its ill-conceived political move. Airbnb can now return to its mandate of bringing people of all backgrounds together around the world, whatever their nationality, race, or religion.”

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