American Jewish progressives defend Airbnb's decision to remove Israeli West Bank properties

Signatories argue that the decision by the home-rental company was not antisemitic


A group of American progressive Jewish groups has written an open letter in support of Airbnb’s decision to remove Israeli listings in the West Bank, describing illegal settlements as “illegitimate, and immoral”.

Last week Gilad Erdan, Israel’s strategic affairs minister, contacted the governors of New York, California, Illinois, Missouri and Florida to urge them to “speak out… and take any other relevant steps, including in relation to commercial dealings” with Airbnb.

Figures from Jewish human rights organisations have responded to Mr Erdan, saying that they were “dismayed” by the allegations against Airbnb made in his letters.

The signatories were Rabbi Jill Jacobs, of T’ruah; Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street; Jim Klutznick, the chair of Americans for Peace Now; Paul Sham, the president of Partners for Progressive Israel; and New Israel Fund CEO Daniel Sokatch.

They wrote: “All of our groups oppose the BDS movement. We also all oppose the occupation of the West Bank, now in its 52nd year.

“Contrary to your claim that Airbnb’s new policy should be characterised as BDS, the company has emphasised its continued commitment to doing business within the Green Line, Israel’s internationally recognised boundaries.

“Its delisting of rental properties will only occur in illegitimate West Bank settlements which are not part of Israel. In our view, no one who supports Israeli-Palestinian peace should oppose Airbnb’s action.

“Your assertion that Airbnb is driven by antisemitism is utterly unsupportable. Airbnb objects to the settlements not because they are Jewish but because they usurp Palestinian land, much of it privately owned.

“The company’s new policy is in line with what much of the world knows: settlements are illegitimate, immoral, and obstacles to peace.”

Mr Erdan and the Israeli government have characterised Airbnb’s decision as part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and therefore a “modern form of antisemitic practice”.

The home-renting company denies this, insisting it does not support boycotts of Israel or Israeli companies.

Airbnb said it delisted Israeli properties in the West Bank after considering whether they “contribute to existing human suffering”, concluding that they “are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”.

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