Airbnb faced an intensive multi-year attack and threats of boycotts , inclusion in the forthcoming UN blacklist, and other forms of negative publicity.
By: NGO Monitor via JNS and United with Israel Staff
Airbnb on Monday announced it was “removing listings” in “Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank.” The company provided no details as to how it defines “Israeli settlements” or the “Occupied West Bank” and whether its decision relates to Jerusalem, and in particular, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.
This change in policy was a clear result of a coordinated and well-financed campaign targeting the company by NGOs involved in BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel, led by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), in concert with the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), at least three Israeli groups, and the Palestinian Authority.
The extreme-left JVP executive director Rebecca Vilomerson declared victory.
“WHEN WE FIGHT WE WIN!! This is a seriously great decision that is the result of several years of work by many organizations all over the world,” she tweeted.
The funders responsible for this campaign include a number of European governments as well as the US-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Airbnb faced an intensive multi-year attack and threats of being included in the forthcoming UNHRC blacklist, boycotts, and other forms of negative publicity. Indeed, the company acknowledged that offering listings in West Bank “settlements” was not illegal, meaning that its decision was the result of political pressure.
Clearly Discriminatory Policy
The company provided five vague criteria used in the process of making this decision. Airbnb did not disclose details of how these criteria were implemented, how it analyzed these factors, nor identify the supposed “experts” and “community of stakeholders” consulted.
Airbnb titled its release “Listings in Disputed Regions” and claims it operates in 191 countries. This anodyne language masks the clearly discriminatory purpose of its policy in bowing to pressure from the BDS campaign. Airbnb has thousands of listings in occupied territories (Turkish Occupied Cyprus, Tibet, etc…) and in areas of extreme violence and human suffering. Yet, the company has decided to solely apply this policy to approximately 100+ Jewish-owned apartments under location criteria not specified by the company. Moreover, the apartments allegedly at issue represent .005 percent of Airbnb’s 4 million listings. In contrast, listings in China (including Tibet) comprise 4 percent.
The role of NGOs and their funders/enablers in this discriminatory political campaign is central. The Israeli NGO known as Kerem Navot, which has partnered with HRW in a number of BDS initiatives, is funded by the European Union (via the Palestinian NGO ARIJ); Rosa Luxemburg Foundation – the funding arm of far-left Die Linke political party (Germany); Diakonia(Sweden); and Broederlijk Delen (Belgium).
Who Profits, an Israeli NGO that facilitates global BDS campaigns, is funded by Church of Sweden (Sweden), Trocaire (Ireland), CCFD-Terre Solidaire (France), HEKS-EPER (Switzerland), DanChurchAid(Denmark), Diakonia (Sweden), Medico International (Germany), and Fagforbunet (Norway).
Rockefeller Brothers Fund is providing grants to a number of these NGOs leading this BDS campaign, including HRW, JVP, SumOfUs, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and Who Profits.
‘A Mistake that Decreases Peace’
Leaders of communities in Judea and Samaria decried Airbnb’s move as “a mistake that [decreases the chances for] peace.”
Beit El Mayor Shai Alon charged that “once again a ‘selection’ of Jews is being performed. It is not new and we are not bothered by the boycott, this time by Airbnb.” He called on vacationers to come to Judea and Samaria. “The scenery here is amazing, the air is clear and the hospitality is better than many places you know,” he said.
Efrat local council Chairman Oded Revivi expressed “disappointment” over Airbnb’s “surrender to extreme pressure, thereby damaging the essence of its existence as well as its uniqueness.”
“The decision does an injustice to Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, constitutes a surrender to extremists and is a mistake that [decreases the chances for] peace,” he underscored.