Airbnb delisting of Judea and Samaria residences ‘illegal under US anti-discrimination law’

November 23, 2018 by Yona Schnitzer - TPS
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The Airbnb decision earlier this week to delist Jewish-owned homes in Judea and Samaria is “discriminatory on its face, and it is illegal under US anti-discrimination law,”  Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, told TPS in an interview yesterday.

Photo by Hillel Maeir/TPS on 19 November, 2018

“Not only has Airbnb singled out Israel of all the places in the world with the disputed or occupied territory, but it has purposely singled out only Jewish-owned homes – that is illegal, racist and anti-Semitic discrimination.”

Goldstein was speaking to TPS at the Psagot Winery in Binyamin, which recently scored a victory in its battle against French implementation of European Union policy to label produce of Judea and Samaria, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, not as  ‘Made in Israel’, but rather ‘Made in West Bank – Israeli Settlement.’

The US-based Lawfare Project represented Psagot in a case against the French government, which in October decided to suspend and refer the decision to the European Court of Justice.

Following multiple lawsuits filed against the decision, the French government decided to suspend the new policy and evaluate it, giving Goldstein hope that such pressure may also be effective in reversing Airbnb’s decision.

“We’re very encouraged with the recent news in France, where the government has decided to temporarily suspend its illegal and discriminatory labelling policy that targets only wines coming from Israel, and we brought a claim on behalf of the winery that the discriminatory policies of the French trade commission is a violation not only of French law, but also of EU law and we are very confident that we’re gonna win,” said Goldstein, speaking on a visit to the Psagot winery.

“There is no reason of merchantability to label products Israeli colony. We have no problem with putting the geographical location, the country of origin which the purchasers have a right to know, but to label something a colony is a political designation… the French trade commission does not have the authority to put its own politicized or legal opinion on labelling laws.”

Meanwhile, Maayanit Rabinovich, a guest house owner from the community of Kida in the Shilo Valley, filed a lawsuit at the Jerusalem District Court against Airbnb following the company’s decision.

Airbnb’s singling out of Jewish homeowners out of all disputed regions in the world constitutes a “severe, offensive and extremely outrageous discrimination on the basis of place of residence, country of origin and opinion,” the lawsuit charges.

“For Airbnb, it was more important to run and tell the media about its decisions, without first notifying the people they’re about to hurt with their intention to do so,” said Rabinovich.

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