December 11, 2019

ADL to Airbnb: ‘We Were Dismayed’ By Decision to Stop Providing Services to Israeli Settlements

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote a letter to Airbnb expressing their dismay at the organization’s decision to stop providing services to Israeli communities in the West Bank.

Greenblatt began the letter by denouncing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic.

Many of the founding goals of the BDS movement, including denying the Jewish people the universal right of self-determination – along with many of the strategies employed in BDS campaigns – are anti-Semitic,” Greenblatt wrote. “Many individuals involved in the starting and running of BDS campaigns are driven by opposition to Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state. And, all too often, BDS advocates employ anti-Semitic rhetoric and narratives to isolate and demonize Israel.”

Greenblatt added that this is why they “were dismayed to read about Airbnb’s recent announcement to not list rentals in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”

“With this decision, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and its supporters will be further emboldened and view it as a victory for their hateful campaign against Israel,” Greenblatt wrote.

Greenblatt noted that Airbnb still provides services to areas in which people have been displaced, such as Northern Cyprus and the Western Sahara, which suggests a “double standard” against Israel.

Greenblatt then asked if Airbnb if they would make similar decisions for other “disputed areas,” what experts they consulted on them matter, how providing services to Israeli communites contributes “to existing human suffering,” and if they would stop providing listings for East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

The ADL CEO also took issue with Airbnb’s contention that the communities in the West Bank are the center of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

“During the Oslo Peace Process, Israel offered the Palestinians significant land concessions in the West Bank, but the Palestinian team walked away from the deal,” Greenblatt wrote. “Instead of working to promote peace, there are voices in Palestinian society as well as others in the Arab world, who reject Israel’s legitimacy and call for a violent end to Israel itself. Unfortunately, the ‘core of the dispute’ is that too many do not want a Jewish state to exist.”

In a statement sent to the Journal via email, an Airbnb spokesperson said, “Israel is a special place and our over 22,000 hosts are special people who have welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests to Israel. We understand that this is a hard and complicated issue, we appreciate everyone’s perspective and we hope to meet with the ADL as soon as possible to discuss this matter.”

The spokesperson added that their guidelines would in fact extend to areas such as the Western Sahara region and that they would still provide listings to Israeli homes in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.