Vacation home-rental company Airbnb said on Monday that it had decided to remove its listings in Jewish settlements in the ‘occupied West Bank’, enclaves that most world powers consider illegal for taking up land where Palestinians seek statehood.
A statement on Airbnb’s website said: “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.” (FULL STATEMENT BELOW)
It did not say when the decision, which according to Airbnb affects some 200 listings, would take effect.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging Jews around the world over to boycott Airbnb over the decision.
“This is double standard anti-Semitism pure and simple. Nowhere else on the planet has Airbnb stopped making its service available in disputed territories, except Judea and Samaria,” said Rabbis Marvin Hier and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC Founder and Dean and Associate Dean.
“To be clear, no Israeli leader, left, right, or center, would ever return to the indefensible ‘Auschwitz borders,’ a term coined by the founder of Israel’s peace movement, the late Israeli Foreign Minister, Abba Eban,” they added.
“We take note that Airbnb has no problem doing business in the territory of the Palestinian Authority, which names schools and shopping centers in honor of mass murderers who have killed innocent civilians and have a ‘pay to slay’ policy when it comes to killing Jews.
“We don’t expect Airbnb to be geo-political experts, but today’s draconian and unjust move, which only empowers extremists and terrorists, merits only one response—taking our community’s business elsewhere,” the Rabbis concluded.
The full Airbnb statement follows:
There are conflicting views regarding whether companies should be doing business in the occupied territories that are the subject of historical disputes between Israelis and Palestinians.
US law permits companies like Airbnb to engage in business in these territories. At the same time, 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. Others believe that companies should not withdraw business operations from these areas.
For us, the question centers on the approximately 200 Airbnb listings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and whether they should be available for rent on our platform. We are most certainly not the experts when it comes to the historical disputes in this region. Our team has wrestled with this issue and we have struggled to come up with the right approach.
In the past, we made clear that we would operate in this area as allowed by law. We did this because we believe that people-to-people travel has considerable value and we want to help bring people together in as many places as possible around the world. We also explained that going forward we would ask questions, listen to experts, seek out our community for their thoughts, and continue to learn.
Since then, we spent considerable time speaking to various experts — including those who have criticized our previous approach — about this matter. As a global platform operating in 191 countries and regions and more than 81,000 cities, we must consider the impact we have and act responsibly. Accordingly, we have developed a framework for evaluating how we should treat listings in occupied territories. When evaluating these types of situations, we will:
- Recognize that each situation is unique and requires a case-by-case approach.
- Consult with a range of experts and our community of stakeholders.
- Assess any potential safety risks for our hosts and guests.
- Evaluate whether the existence of listings is contributing to existing human suffering.
- Determine whether the existence of listings in the occupied territory has a direct connection to the larger dispute in the region.
When we applied our decision-making framework, 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.
We know that people will disagree with this decision and appreciate their perspective. This is a controversial issue. There are many strong views as it relates to lands that have been the subject of historic and intense disputes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Airbnb has deep respect for those views. Our hope is that someday sooner rather than later, a framework is put in place where the entire global community is aligned so there will be a resolution to this historic conflict and a clear path forward for everybody to follow. As of today, this is an aspirational hope. People of goodwill have been seeking this goal for decades but we continue to hope for a durable, lasting peace.
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