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Human Rights Organization Calls on Booking Websites to Boycott Listings in Jerusalem, West Bank Settlements

• January 30, 2019 11:22 am

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A prominent human rights group has called on the four largest vacation booking websites to boycott West Bank settlements and Jewish listings in east Jerusalem.

Amnesty International accuses Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor of "fueling human rights violations" for listing properties in the regions.

"Online booking giants Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor are fueling human rights violations against Palestinians by listing hundreds of rooms and activities in Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, including east Jerusalem," Amnesty said, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Airbnb first said in November that it would not list rentals in West Bank settlements, but it did not say the same about east Jerusalem. Amnesty says Airbnb lists 100 Jewish properties in that part of the city. They also claim Airbnb has not fully enforced its West Bank settlement boycott, saying it has "more than 300 listings of properties in settlements."

Gilad Erdan, Israel's Strategic Affairs and Public Safety Minister, warned that he would consider banning non-Israeli Amnesty employees from the country if they continued to fight against settlement tourism. He also called Amnesty "hypocritical" for supporting an anti-Semitic de-legitimization effort against Israel.

"The Israeli government uses the growing tourism industry in the settlements as a way of legitimizing their existence and expansion, and online booking companies are playing along with this agenda. It’s time for these companies to stand up for human rights by withdrawing all of their listings in illegal settlements on occupied land. War crimes are not a tourist attraction," Seema Joshi, Amnesty's director of global thematic issues, said.

Airbnb is currently being sued over its West Bank settlement boycott by five American citizens, two of which also have Israeli citizenship. The lawsuit claims Airbnb's policy targets "only those residential dwellings and accommodations in Judea and Samaria that are owned or managed by Jews," and contends the policy is "reminiscent of the Nazi-era boycotts against Jewish business and enterprises in Germany during the 1930s."

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Joel Taubman released the following statement.

"I am disturbed to hear that Amnesty International is demanding Airbnb prevent Jews from booking rooms in places like the Jewish Quarter of ancient Jerusalem. I joined the lawsuit Harow et al v. Airbnb, Inc. to end Airbnb's discriminatory policy that stops Jews from using the site for travel to Judea and Samaria. I hope the courts rule swiftly in our case to prevent Airbnb from extending their discrimination to the foot of the Western Wall, the holiest site in the world for the Jewish people and a place dear to my heart."

Update 1:08 p.m.: Post was updated to include the statement from Taubman.

Published under: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Human Rights, Israel