Airbnb Reverses Discriminatory Policy Banning Listings in Israeli Towns in West Bank

In a major defeat for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, home-sharing platform Airbnb announced Tuesday that it will back off of a plan to remove all listings of rentals in Israeli towns in the West Bank.

Airbnb reversed its policy following a court settlement Monday between the company and a dozen American Jewish plaintiffs who had sued the rental giant after Airbnb announced in November 2018 that it would ban Jewish property owners living in the West Bank from advertising on its website.

“We understand the complexity of the issue that was addressed in our previous policy announcement, and we will continue to allow listings throughout all of the West Bank, but Airbnb will take no profits from this activity in the region,” Airbnb said in a statement. Instead, the company explained, any profits from rentals in the West Bank will be donated to non-profits focused on humanitarian aid in different parts of the world.

Shurat Hadin filed the suit under the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination against minorities in the United States. Because Airbnb is based in Delaware, the company must adhere to the act in all its listings worldwide. The plaintiffs argued that Airbnb was discriminating against Jewish home owners, while still listing on its platform rentals by Palestinian Muslims and Christians in the West Bank.

“Airbnb recognizes that there are many other disputed territories around the world,” the company said. “If Airbnb determines homes — the core of our business — are central to ongoing tensions, we will adopt the same approach,” including in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two other disputed regions.

Notably, the company clarified that, “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,” the company stressed. “We have always sought to bring people together and will continue to work with our community to achieve this goal.”

Shurat Hadin president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner stated, “The rescinding of Airbnb’s discriminatory policy is (…) A powerful defeat for the anti-Israel boycott movement. BDS is an antisemitic campaign which purports to care about human rights but whose real goal is to completely replace the Jewish state with a Palestinian one.”

[Photo: TeroVesalainen / Pixabay]