Airbnb has singled out one side of one conflict in the world while ignoring so many others. Apparently, only Jewish settlements in the disputed territory of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) are worth restricting. I can get an Airbnb in Myanmar’s Rakhine province, where the military is ethnically cleansing Rohingya Muslims. I can get an Airbnb in China’s Xinjiang Province, where there may be up to 1 million Uigher Muslims in “re-education” camps. I can get an Airbnb in Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus, Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, and war-torn Yemen. I can even still get an Airbnb in Russian-occupied Abkhazia, despite Airbnb promises otherwise.
I can get an Airbnb in all those places, but Airbnb says I can’t stay in places where the Maccabees fought and Abraham is buried. Now, Amnesty International is demanding that Airbnb and three other sites include “East Jerusalem” in the boycott. It boggles the mind to see international organizations twisted to the point where they call for barring Jewish travel to the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall.
Airbnb and those that pressure it ignore that one side in this dispute does not believe Judean and Samarian settlements are the core issue. Palestinian leaders from Arafat to Abbas regularly state that Tel Aviv and Haifa are settlements just like any other and that Jerusalem has no Jewish history. These leaders even secretly jailed Palestinian American Issam Akel for months for the supposed capital crime of selling land to Jews. Yet somehow Airbnb’s discriminatory policy does not equally affect Palestinian hosts operating under laws codifying racism.
Sadly, Airbnb only cares about blaming one side in one world conflict. I hope my part in Harow et al v. Airbnb, Inc., 3:19-cv-00395-JCS will help end Airbnb’s discriminatory policy.
This post originally appeared as a letter in The Jewish News of Northern California. A long form post will appear in the near future.