Minister in charge of combating BDS calls for Airbnb boycott

Gilad Erdan says those who support Israel should stop using listings company, after it announced it would remove properties in West Bank settlements from its service

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at a Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, November 21, 2018 (Sivan Farag)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at a Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, November 21, 2018 (Sivan Farag)

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan on Wednesday called on Israelis to boycott Airbnb in light of the company’s decision to no longer allow listings in Israeli settlements.

“This decision is appalling in its hypocrisy, outrageous in its discrimination, and counterproductive in its effects,” he said.

“Airbnb operates in 191 countries, in which there are dozens of disputed territories. Yet Airbnb hasn’t decided to de-list properties in any of them. Only in Israel,” he told the audience at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, speaking in English.

Israel is examining “numerous courses of action” against AirBnB, Erdan said.

“On the one hand, we will attempt to explain to the company why its decision is misguided and harmful. At the same time, we will examine other avenues of action as well,” he said.

A home in the northern West Bank that will no longer be available for rent on Airbnb. (Samaria Tourism)

Erdan said he would ask senior US officials to use existing anti-discrimination and counter-boycott legislation against the company. “States and their employees should not do business with companies that discriminate against Israel,” he said.

“We’ll also examine whether this decision constitutes national origin discrimination in accordance with the laws in France and other locations,” he added.

“Israeli citizens may consider filing lawsuits under Israel’s counter-BDS law,” he went on, stressing that he will promote Knesset legislation to “make it easier for people to sue BDS organizations.”

“All those who support Israel and oppose discriminatory boycotts should cease using Airbnb and turn to other services,” he declared.

Erdan is also Strategic Affairs Minister, which includes fighting the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement.

“BDS and terror are two sides of the same coin. Both reject the right of the Jewish people to a national home. Both spread incitement aimed at demonizing the Jewish state. And both justify violence against Israeli civilians as legitimate resistance,” he declared.

“Their aims are the same. Only their means are different.”

Airbnb’s statement Monday noted that 200 listings in the West Bank would be removed, after the company had concluded “they are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”

The company said the decision to remove the listings came after “considerable time” was spent consulting experts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Airbnb said that, as an industry leader, it “must consider the impact we have and act responsibly.”

The announcement came a day before Human Rights Watch was set to publish a report detailing the company’s operations in Israeli settlements.

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