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Airbnb Lifts Israel Boycott After Lawsuits Challenge Decision

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• April 9, 2019 6:16 pm

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The online travel lodging website Airbnb announced that it would be lifting its boycott on Jewish-owned homes in Israel after a rash of lawsuits entangled the company in an international scandal.

Airbnb announced it would reverse course and not follow through on its original promise to remove Jewish-owned homes from its listing in the West Bank, which the company claimed was disputed territory belonging to the Palestinians.

The company's original decision was viewed as a win for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which wages economic warfare on the Jewish state.

Following a rash of lawsuits challenging Airbnb's decision as discriminatory and racist against Jews, the company announced that it would continue to list Jewish West Bank homes though it would not be accepting profits from these listings.

Under the terms of the legal settlements, "Airbnb will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in the West Bank from the platform," the company stated. "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, but Airbnb will take no profits from this activity in the region."

"Any profits generated for Airbnb by any Airbnb host activity in the entire West Bank will be donated to non-profit organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world," the statement said. "Airbnb will also implement the same approach for listings in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two other disputed areas where the company has previously announced that we would take action."

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League expressed pleasure with Airbnb's reversal.

"We appreciate that Airbnb and Brian Chesky listened to us and the wider community, and course-corrected on how they implement their listing policy," Greenblatt said. "We also welcome their clear rejection of BDS and embrace of the Israeli market."

Read AirBnB's full statement:

Update on Listings in Disputed Regions

Today, Airbnb is announcing that we have settled all lawsuits that were brought by hosts and potential hosts and guests who objected to a policy the company recently announced concerning listings in disputed areas.

Under the settlement terms, Airbnb will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in the West Bank from the platform. 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, but Airbnb will take no profits from this activity in the region. Any profits generated for Airbnb by any Airbnb host activity in the entire West Bank will be donated to non-profit organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world. Airbnb will also implement the same approach for listings in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two other disputed areas where the company has previously announced that we would take action.

Airbnb has always opposed 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. We have always sought to bring people together and will continue to work with our community to achieve this goal.

Airbnb recognizes that there are many other disputed territories around the world. The company will rely upon our previously identified framework to evaluate these areas. If Airbnb determines homes — the core of our business — are central to ongoing tensions, we will adopt the same approach of allowing listings and donating Airbnb's profits generated by Airbnb host activity in the region to non-profit organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world.

Update 8:33 p.m.: This post has been updated with comment from Jonathan Greenblatt.

Published under: Israel