Airbnb blacklists Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria

Following a 2016 racial discrimination scandal, the popular peer-to-peer lodging app announced it would ban Israelis based on the location of their homes within the Jewish state.

By Ebin Sandler, World Israel News

On Monday, Airbnb announced it is removing lodging listings placed by Israelis who live in communities in Judea and Samaria.

The leading peer-to-peer app allows users to rent out rooms in their dwellings to guests, using their homes as hotels or short-term rentals.

According to the statement released by Airbinb, the company concluded “it should remove listings” in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, which it referred to as “the occupied West Bank,” a term generally used by those who place blame on the Jewish state for the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict.

“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,” the company added.

The move arrives just two years after Airbnb was rocked by a racism scandal based on numerous complaints, which appeared to be confirmed by a Harvard Business School study demonstrating widespread discrimination by hosts targeting individuals whose names suggested they were black.

In response to the crisis, which garnered significant negative press for the Airbnb, the app hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to create an anti-discrimination policy.

With regard to Airbnb’s ban on Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria, a spokesman said the decision would affect hundreds of listings.

Around half a million Israelis live in Judea and Samaria, alongside Arab communities governed by the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin immediately demanded that Airbnb cancel its “discriminatory decision to remove from its site listings in Judea and Samaria.”

A statement issued by Levin’s office characterized the policy as a “disgraceful and miserable surrender” to anti-Israel activists.

Levin also reportedly ordered his office to formulate immediate measures to curtail the company’s activity throughout Israel, instructing his ministry to initiate a special program to stimulate tourism and increase demand for vacation rentals throughout Judea and Samaria.