Illinois Board Cites Airbnb for Violating Law Over Israel Boycotts

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December 12, 2018

An independent board in Illinois voted Wednesday afternoon to notify the online lodging website Airbnb that it is violating state laws barring the economic boycott of Israel, according to sources tracking the ongoing meetings.

Airbnb caused an uproar in the pro-Israel community when it decided to remove some 200 listings of Jewish homes, a move viewed as an endorsement of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which seeks to wage economic war on Israel.

Airbnb’s decision also stoked outrage on Capitol Hill and in some corners of the Trump administration. Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Florida Republican Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis both publicly stated that their states are examining whether Airbnb violated laws barring U.S. companies from engaging with the BDS movement.

Illinois on Wednesday became the first state to take firm action against Airbnb, when the Illinois Investment Policy Board Committee on Israel Boycott Restrictions, which includes appointees of the governor and representatives of the state pension board, unanimously voted to notify Airbnb that it is in violation of state laws.

Shortly after, the full board also unanimously voted to notify Airbnb.

Airbnb now has 90 days to respond before it is blacklisted in Illinois.

One former top Illinois state official who was involved in creating anti-BDS legislation mandating Illinois divest from any company backing Israel boycotts, the nation's first, told the Washington Free Beacon that a blacklisting by the state could negatively impact Airbnb when it goes public in the near future.

"This is a watershed moment for anti-BDS laws in America," the source said. "If I'm an investor looking at a possible IPO next year, this is very worrisome."

The Free Beacon will update this report as more information becomes available.

Update 2:45 p.m.: This post has been updated with further information.