April 26, 2019

ADL, Other Jewish Groups Applaud Airbnb for Changing Its Policy

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other Jewish groups applauded Airbnb for announcing on April 9 that it would be rescinding its policy of de-listing Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria.

As first reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Airbnb’s reversal came as part of a settlement with Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center, which represented several American Jews who owned housing properties in Judea and Samaria. The plaintiffs had argued that Airbnb’s policy was in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Airbnb confirmed on their website that they would be ending the policy, stating: “We understand the complexity of the issue that was addressed in our previous policy announcement, and we will continue to allow listings throughout all of the West Bank.” They will instead be donating profits from such listing toward “non-profit organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world.”

Airbnb also said they have “always opposed the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement, “We appreciate that Airbnb and [CEO] Brian Chesky listened to us and the wider community, and course-corrected on how they implement their listing policy. We also welcome their clear rejection of BDS and embrace of the Israeli market.”

Greenblatt had sent a letter to Airbnb in November stating that the ADL was “dismayed” by Airbnb’s policy since it “further emboldened” the BDS movement. According to the ADL, Greenblatt recently met with Airbnb prior to the April 9 announcement.

Similarly, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement, “The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which denounced Airbnb’s initial decision to drop Jewish homeowners living on the West Bank as anti-Semitic, is pleased that the company has rescinded its ill-conceived political move. Airbnb can now return to its mandate of bringing people of all backgrounds together around the world, whatever their nationality, race, or religion.”

StandWithUs tweeted, “StandWithUs is proud to have fought back against @Airbnb‘s discrimination with over 8,000 emails sent opposing their anti-Israeli policy. Now, that policy has been reversed.”

Roz Rothstein, CEO and co-founder of StandWithUs, similarly tweeted that Airbnb’s reversal is “wonderful news.”

Siamak Kordestani, assistant director of the American Jewish Committee’s Los Angeles region, told the Journal via email, “We welcome Airbnb’s cancellation of its announced ban on Jewish listings in the West Bank and its explicit rejection of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement which targets Israel. Discriminatory boycotts are not a way to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

World Jewish Congress tweeted, “Cooperation is the solution, not boycotting.”

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president Shurat HaDin and one of the plaintiff’s attorneys, said in a statement, “The policy Airbnb announced last November was abject discrimination against Jewish users of the website. The rescinding of Airbnb’s discriminatory policy is, thus, a powerful defeat for the anti-Israel boycott movement.”

“BDS is an anti-Semitic campaign which purports to care about human rights but whose real goal is to completely replace the Jewish State with a Palestinian one,” Darshan-Leitner said. “Other international companies need to learn the lessons from Airbnb’s mistake and understand that boycotting Israel and discriminating against Jews are unlawful acts which will ultimately result in dire legal consequences, public condemnations and embarrassment. No outside party can decide for Israel what its legitimate borders will be or where Jews will be permitted to live. We commend Airbnb for recognizing that it had landed on the wrong side of this issue and changing the policy.”