Airbnb retreats from ban on Jewish-owned listings in Judea and Samaria

Home-rental giant Airbnb retreats from its position to ban the listing of Jewish-owned rentals homes in Judea and Samaria.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Airbnb announced Tuesday that it was reversing its decision to prohibit listing Jewish-owned homes in Judea and Samara on its website, thereby handing a defeat to the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) Movement in what had previously been thought a major BDS victory.

The rental giant’s move ensured that it would not have to go to court to defend itself against charges that it was discriminating against clients based on their religion. Airbnb had singled out Jewish homes in the disputed territories, while continuing to allow Christian and Muslim-owned homes to be listed.

Lawsuits were filed against Airbnb in Israel, California, New York and Delaware.

Shurat Hadin, the Israel Law Center, which brought the case in Delaware, also argued that Airbnb discriminated by singling out only one disputed territory in the world, while ignoring other conflict zones, such as South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Shurat Hadin expressed satisfaction with the outcome of its negotiations with the company, and issued a warning to others who might consider bowing to demands from anti-Israel activists.

“The rescinding of Airbnb’s discriminatory policy is… a powerful defeat for the anti-Israel boycott movement,” Shurat Hadin said in a statement. “Other international companies need to learn the lessons from Airbnb’s mistake and understand that boycotting Israel and discriminating against Jews are unlawful acts which will ultimately result in dire legal consequences, public condemnations, and embarrassment.”

The policy, which Airbnb never had a chance to implement, will now be voided, with Airbnb rejecting the claim that it ever was anti-Israel.

“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,” a company statement read.

Airbnb says that it has now decided not to take any profits from business it receives in any “disputed areas” in the world. Instead, “any profits… will be donated to non-profit organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world.”