Airbnb announced that they have settled all lawsuits that were brought by a group of Jewish homeowners in Judea and Samaria who objected to the company’s decision not to list their homes on the popular vacation rentals website.
The plaintiffs, six Jewish families who own properties in the area, claimed that Airbnb was discriminating against them for being Jewish, given that it still allowed listings by Muslims and Christians in Judea and Samaria. “The policy Airbnb announced last November was abject discrimination against Jewish users of the website,” their lawyer said in a statement. “Whatever one’s political view, discrimination based on religious affiliation should never be the solution,” he added.
In November 2018, Airbnb decided to remove some 200 Jewish rental listings in Judea and Samaria claiming that the settlements “are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.” The Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to economically choke Israel saw the decision as a victory. Airbnb insisted in their statement that they oppose the BDS movement. “Airbnb has never boycotted Israel, Israeli businesses, or the more than 20,000 Israeli hosts who are active on the Airbnb platform,” the statement read. Airbnb did not explain why a decision was made in 2018 to refuse registration of Jewish homes.
Under the terms of the settlement worked out in the courts with the Jewish homeowners, Airbnb cannot remove listings of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria from their website. “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,” the statement said.
In response to the settlement, Airbnb said they will donate profits gained from rentals in Judea and Samaria to “organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world.” They did not specify if this refers to Christian and Muslim homes in the region, or only Jewish homes. No explanation was given as to which organizations the profits from these rentals would be donated.
Airbnb revealed that their earlier decision to exclude Jewish homes “was met with strong objections by some members of the Airbnb community as well as other individuals and groups supportive of Israel. Some have even sought to associate Airbnb with the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. Airbnb is clear that it does not intend, and has never intended, to align itself with the BDS movement or to otherwise position the company as adverse to any segment (Jewish) of its community.”