On February 22, 2018, Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky spoke at an event in San Francisco. Here’s what it looked like:
Airbnb for everyone. Sounds nice. Hell, it sounds easy, too. Apparently not. According to Bob Fredericks at the New York Post, “Airbnb plans to discontinue listing housing in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, a new report said Tuesday. Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin described it as a ‘disgraceful surrender,’ while senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called it an ‘initial positive step,’ NPR reported.” Meaning, Airbnb is removing listings in the West Bank from Israeli Jews, a clear act of corporate Antisemitism. Though Airbnb did not explicitly discriminate against Jews, (That’d be too obvious) they did mostly remove listings that are owned by Israeli Jews who live in disputed land.
This statement should raise a few red flags for those who try to be intellectually honest. For starters, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat is not unfamiliar to controversy and alarmism in the past. According to a CNN transcript from 2002, Erekat claimed that the number of Palestinians dead during the IDF’s attack on the Palestinian town of Jenin “would be no less than 500”. Was it 500? No. 200? No. Try 56. Less than 60 Palestinians were killed in the attack, with the overwhelming majority of them being combatants. Secondly, any time a member of Fatah or Hamas, (Yes, that Hamas. The terrorist group) sides with the actions of a worldwide corporation, should almost always be disconcerting.
Let me be clear, I am one of the biggest fans out there of free markets and capitalism, and in no way am I calling for legal action to be taken against Airbnb, because government intervention into corporate “messes” generally makes the mess worse. However, I would not be shy to a boycott on Airbnb for their actions. Yes, Airbnb has the right, as a corporation, to list and un-list property where and when they want, but it is when the company becomes inconsistent with how they treat their customers and tenants, that this issue arises. “We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians,” Airbnb said. Is Airbnb consistent in removing listings from “disputed territory”? Nope. Planning to go to Crimea soon? Airbnb is there for you! Wanna rent a “cozy studio” near Gulshan-Baridhara, Tibet? Airbnb at your service. The Turkish have been killing off Kurds in Kurdish towns for years, but, thank God, you can still rent through Airbnb there. David Hersanyi at the New York Post says “If you want a place on the Gaza Strip, where the state fires hundreds of rockets at Jewish civilians to cheers of the populace, no problem. I mean, Hamas’ charter might say that there’s ‘no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad,’ but for 55 dollars a night, Airbnb has a solution for the discerning traveler”.
Well done, Airbnb, you have set the precedent for corporate Antisemitism that, almost certainly, will have other brands follow suit. At best, you look like top-tier hypocrites, and at worst, Anti-Semites.
Fredericks, Bob. “Airbnb Slammed for Ending West Bank Listings.” New York Post, New York Post, 20 Nov. 2018, nypost.com/2018/11/20/airbnb-slammed-for-ending-west-bank-listings/.
Harsanyi, David. “Airbnb's Act of Corporate Anti-Semitism.” New York Post, New York Post, 27 Nov. 2018, nypost.com/2018/11/20/airbnbs-act-of-corporate-anti-semitism/.