Israeli minister to US governors: Take action against Airbnb

Israel’s government is looking to find ways to make Airbnb regret its decision to single out Jewish apartment rentals for a boycott.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel isn’t taking Airbnb’s boycott lying down. On Monday, Nov. 19, the popular apartment rental site announced it would no longer list Jewish-owned apartments in Judea and Samaria after it succumbed to pressure from anti-Israel groups.

Gilad Erdan, minister of strategic affairs, set up an inter-departmental team to explore ways to respond to Airbnb’s decision. The team’s first fruits? Five letters sent to U.S. governors requesting that they sanction the apartment rental giant and speak out publicly against it.

The governors who received the letter were New York’s Andrew Cuomo, California’s Jerry Brown, Illinois’ Bruce Rowner, Missouri’s Mike Parson, and Florida’s outgoing Rick Scott and incoming Ron DeSantis.

“As the minister in charge of the campaign against the BDS, I would like to draw your attention to Airbnb’s announcement that it will remove Israeli businesses located in Judea and Samaria from its website thus adopting the anti-Semitic practices and narratives of the BDS movement,” Erdan writes in the letter.

“The BDS is not a movement that is interested in promoting peace or a better future for the Palestinians, but rather in demonizing and discriminating against the State of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and the strongest U.S. ally in the region,” he writes.

“I ask that you consider speaking out against the company’s decision, and taking any other relevant steps, including in relation to commercial dealings between Airbnb, the state … and its employees.”

Exploring options

The inter-departmental team, made up of members from the ministries of tourism, foreign affairs, justice, finance and taxes are looking for other ways to respond, Israel’s Mako website reports.

Immediately following Airbnb’s announcing Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin released a video of himself attacking the decision and promising legal action against the rental company both in Israel and in the U.S.

He also instructed his ministry to initiate a special program to increase demand for vacation rentals throughout Judea and Samaria.

Human rights attorney Brooke Goldstein of The Lawfare Project said Airbnb is guilty of a “double element of discrimination,” by targeting only one conflict zone in the world and only Jews in that zone. In an interview with i24TV, she writes “Airbnb served on a silver platter the perfect anti-discrimination suit.’