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Airbnb(an), Open for Business, End Times

Airbnb Boycotted and Sued for Discrimination Following Israel Settlement Ban

Biz Carson, Forbes, December 11th 2018


Legal quandaries & boycotts abound as a result of Airbnb’s decision to remove 200 West Bank listings from its website.

The Context:

  • The listings have long been criticized by the Palestinian community [1] and were removed by Airbnb for being “at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians [2]." Palestinian leaders celebrated the decision, although expressed frustration that it did not include areas like East Jerusalem.

  • Beverly Hills passed a resolution calling for a global boycott of Airbnb and Miami is considering a similar resolution. Airbnb also faces lawsuits in both the US and Israel [3] for potentially violating anti-boycott legislation [4]. The lawsuit identifies the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as the force behind Airbnb’s policy shift [5] although Airbnb released a statement saying that with “more than 20,000 hosts and over a million guests, Airbnb has a significant investment in Israel” and “categorically opposes the BDS movement.”

  • Proponents of the removal point to Airbnb’s decision in 2014 to remove 4,000 listings in Crimea after Russia annexed the region from Ukraine as precedence for the West Bank delisting. Critics say the glaring difference between the two scenarios is that the US had sanctions in place against Russia whereas no such sanctions exist today against Israel’s West Bank presence.

  • OlehStay, an Israel-based home-renting site, launched on December 10th as a result of the Airbnb decision. There are already listings in Gush Etzion, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem [6].

Conversation Points:

  • Why did Airbnb decide to take a political stance on this issue?

  • Do companies benefit by getting involved in politics?

  • What do Palestinian activists ultimately seek if they feel shortchanged that other areas weren’t included in the delisting?

Jerusalem to Build Embassy Quarter

David Rosenberg, Israel National News, December 12th 2018


A year after the US formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel is preparing a special embassy quarter in the city. The new compound will include nine separate sections for prospective embassies built on 25 acres of land.

The Context:

  • Guatemala relocated its embassy to Jerusalem while Honduras and the Czech Republic will do so in the near future. Israel is in talks with 10 other countries about relocating their embassies [7].

  • This week Australia recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but will leave its embassy in Tel Aviv to avoid $200-$400 million in moving costs [8]. The announcement was welcomed by Israel, but heavily criticized by Palestinians and a number of Muslim-majority countries in Asia, including neighboring Indonesia, with which Australia is trying to finalize an ambitious free-trade deal [9].

  • Other capitals in the world, like Washington DC and London, have concentrated areas with official and unofficial embassies. Currently, there are several embassies on Hayarkon Street in Tel Aviv, but there is no official embassy row. Some embassies that claim to be in Tel Aviv are technically in Ramat Gan [10].

  • The compound will boast views of the Judean Desert and Dead Sea and, like the American Embassy, be surrounded by a security fence [11].

Conversation Points:

  • Will a diplomatic compound encourage more countries to move their embassies?

  • Is Australia playing both sides of the conflict by acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital yet stopping short of relocating its embassy?

  • Is there a tangible benefit for Israel if a country moves its embassy to Jerusalem? Should the Israeli government offer incentives for countries to do so?

Survey: 38% of Jews in Europe are Thinking About Leaving

Adam Shidlovsky, Israel Hayom, December 9th 2018


A report compiled by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) found that growing anti-Semitism has caused 38% of European Jewry to consider leaving.

The Context:

  • Over 16,000 Jews from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK took part in FRA’s assessment. The survey is the largest of its kind and “suggests that anti-Semitism permeates the public sphere, reproducing and solidifying negative stereotypes of Jews” [12].

  • Nearly one-third of respondents said they had personally experienced anti-Semitic attacks. The most common verbal comments include, "Jews have too much power and influence"; "Jews exploit the Holocaust for their own interests"; and "Israel treats the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews."

  • Respondents in France, Belgium, Germany and Poland felt the sharpest increases in anti-Semitism with nearly 90% of French Jews saying they had faced expressions of hostility on the street [13]. Yaakov Hagoel, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization, urged policymakers to combat anti-Semitism immediately. "Jews are loyal citizens of the countries where they live, and the governments of those European countries have a responsibility to ensure their safety."

Conversation Points:

  • What explains the rising tide of European anti-Semitism in recent years?

  • What other European minorities might also feel an uptick in discrimination today?

  • Would you stay in a country where you felt unsafe?


  1. Israeli Cabinet Minister Erdan Urges Boycott of Airbnb, Al Jazeera, December 12th 2018

  2. Ibid.

  3. U.S. Jews Sue Airbnb Over Israeli Settlement Ban, Haaretz, November 30th 2018

  4. Airbnb Bans Listings in Israeli Settlements on West Bank, Isabel Kershner, New York Times, November 19th 2018

  5. Airbnb Sued Over Religious Discrimination by Israeli-Americans And Americans For Delisting West Bank Homes, Glenn Fleishman, Fortune, November 29th 2018

  6. Airbnb Won’t Operate in Israeli Settlements, So ‘Olehstay’ Steps In, Alyssa Fisher, Forward, December 11th 2018

  7. Israel Preparing Jerusalem Compound for Embassies, Ofer Petersburg, Ynetnews, December 12th 2018

  8. Australia To Recognize Jerusalem As the Capital of Israel, Phillip Coorey, Afr.Com, December 12th 2018

  9. Australia To Recognize Jerusalem As Israeli Capital, Delay Embassy Move, Tamar Pileggi, Times of Israel, December 11th 2018

  10. After U.S. Move, Israel Eyeing Site for an ‘Embassy Quarter’ In Jerusalem, Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, December 12th 2018

  11. Israel Preparing Jerusalem Compound for Embassies, Ofer Petersburg, Ynetnews, December 12th 2018

  12. Commission Warns of Rising Anti-Semitism In Europe, Irene Kostaki, New Europe, December 11th 2018

  13. 38% Of European Jews Have Considered Emigrating Due to Recent Anti-Semitism, E.U. Reports, Stephen Johnson, Big Think, December 10th 2018

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