I still have a reservation with Airbnb

I have a confession to make. And it’s not something that I am proud of. In fact, what I’m about to reveal is deeply embarrassing and leaves me bursting with guilt. Perhaps I would go so far as suggesting that I feel that I have betrayed my family, my friends, and my neighbors living in Judea and Samaria and throughout Israel.

So here goes: I currently have a reservation on a property through Airbnb.

But before you get out the pitchforks, please understand. I had booked my rental BEFORE the so-called “progressive” San Francisco-based company decided that they would delist Jewish and only Jewish owned-properties throughout Judea and Samaria.

It’s irrelevant where this property is located, or when I’ll be there (I’m actually a pretty private person and wouldn’t tell you anyway), but this was my first time ever using the online service to secure a temporary home away from home.

In other words, since I didn’t really know what I was doing, and at the same time I had no idea in a million years that this boycott was on its way, I didn’t pay too much attention to the fine print, when it came to the cancellation policy of this particular property.

OF COURSE after I heard about the anti-Semitic boycott — and yes, singling out and discriminating against one specific group of people — the Jews, based on their religion or nationality, is the classic definition of anti-Semitism (whether that was intended or not), I did try to cancel. But alas, it was too late. If I cancel now, I will lose half of my payment. And while we’re not talking about millions of NIS, it certainly isn’t chump change.

So what should I do?

Would swallowing the financial loss and canceling now make me feel any better about myself? And would boycotting the boycotters actually sway them to change their malicious policies? Since they are a business, perhaps if thousands would boycott them affecting their bottom line they would have a change of heart.  It’s hard to tell for sure what would have an impact.

It seems at this point that they are pretty set in their singling out of Judea and Samaria for boycott, as many including International Law Expert Eugene Kontorovich pointed out in his Wall Street Journal op-ed, that while many other countries are involved in disputes over land (for the record, the conflict between the Jews of Israel and her neighbors isn’t a land dispute, but that’s a topic for another time), Airbnb has never pulled its listings in those places.

And of course Airbnb still lists properties in countries with deplorable human rights records, including many in the Arab world, whose residents would never be caught renting to Jews or to an Israeli. Same is true of course in areas under the PA, where Jews are not welcomed. While the big red signs posted indicate that it is illegal and dangerous for Israelis to entered Area “A,” the warning truly only pertains to Jews, as Israeli Arabs can roam those area freely.

In short, Airbnb has clearly aligned itself with the anti-Israel BDS movement. And as Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan said last week “BDS and terror are two sides of the same coin.” I concur because despite what they might claim (it’s all about the “settlements” they say), the true goals of BDS just like those of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PLO, or any other Jihadist terror organization, is to wipe out the State of Israel.

But bottom line, instead of cancelling and biting the bullet, here is what I am going to do instead:

Utilizing the equivalent sum of money I would have lost by canceling my reservation, I will:

  • Help to promote Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria, especially apartment rentals, tzimmers, and weekend retreats. I hope that many Israelis and friends of Israel will use Airbnb’s hateful decree as motivation to now more than ever, support those trying to make ends meet in these targeted areas of the country. Might as well include those trying to make a living in the Golan and in the Eastern side of Jerusalem while we are at it.
  • Donate to a worthy cause. As I explained before, the true goal of BDS is to try and wipe Israel off the map starting with Judea and Samaria. So what better way to counter that goal, than by protecting the physical safety of the residents of Judea and Samaria, who often bear the brunt of terrorist shootings, car-rammings, stone throwings, attempted infiltrations, and other types of attack. Therefore, I will donate to the One Israel Fund organization’s, “Operation No More Jewish Victims” Campaign.

The project provides much needed security equipment to those on the front lines protecting Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria (along with those on the southern border and northern border), in light of all of the threats we face.  I highly encourage those who want to make a difference in the security realm to donate to that campaign.

I’m hoping that in lieu of cancelling my Airbnb, taking these two steps will not only alleviate my guilt, but will serve as the correct response to those who discriminate against sectors of our population.

One thing though is for sure; I won’t make the same mistake again and rent via Airbnb unless they walk back their draconian anti-Jewish guidelines.

About the Author
Joshua Hasten is the International Spokesperson for Gush Etzion. He is host of the weekly “Israel Uncensored” radio broadcast on The Land of Israel Network, as well as an international Middle East Correspondent in print and on television. Joshua is also a sought-after speaker around the world. His workshops and lectures on pro-Israel advocacy have impacted thousands. Joshua was the CAMERA organization’s 2009 Letter Writer of the Year, and is a member of the Judea and Samaria Speaker’s Bureau. Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, he resides in Gush Etzion, Israel.
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