- - Tuesday, December 11, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Cities and countries have gone to war with Airbnb over its exacerbation of housing shortages in places like San Francisco or its unfair competition with hotels in places like Paris, but there is only one country against which Airbnb is waging the war. That’s Israel.

In a press release that is a mixture of sanctimonious virtue signaling and disingenuous rationales, Airbnb announced it is no longer listing properties in what it calls “the occupied territories” or “West Bank.” In the same breath it acknowledges its lack of expertise on the history of the region but has relied on the opinions of others.

So, perhaps a history lesson is in order. The term “West Bank” has no meaningful historical foundation. It was created by Jordan after its illegal occupation of the historic areas known as Judea and Samaria.

These areas were part of the original homeland designated for the Jewish people under the British Mandate and Britain’s commitment to the League of Nations. In 1927, Britain unilaterally and arbitrarily created the country known as Jordan on two-thirds of the land. Modern day Jordan prohibits Jews from living there or owning property. Airbnb has not delisted its locations in Jordan.

In 1948, the United Nations apportioned the remaining one-third of the land between the Arabs and Jews. The Jews accepted the partition. The Arabs did not. The newly created state of Jordan invaded the territories of Judea and Samaria, massacred a great number of Jews and expelled the rest, stealing their land and property. Jordan then annexed Judea and Samaria and the Jewish holy sites in eastern Jerusalem. Jewish places of worship were systematically destroyed. Not only were Jews expelled from the annexed territories, they were also prohibited from returning to worship at those places in violation of international law.



In 1967, Egyptian strongman Gamal Abdel Nasser, in violation of international agreements, cut off the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, blocked the Israeli port of Eilat, and precipitated the Six Day War. Despite Israeli warnings to Jordan to stay out of the conflict, Jordan joined Egypt and subsequently lost Judea and Samaria to Israel.

Israel has offered to trade land for peace and made generous offers at Camp David to Yasser Arafat and subsequently to his successor, Mahmoud Abbas. Going as far back as the British Peel Commission of 1937, every attempt to create a peace settlement that also included the existence of a Jewish state alongside an Arab state has been met with Arab rejection.

Airbnb’s intrusion into this history raises questions about its motives. There are 18 Muslim majority countries where no Israeli can visit let alone rent an Airbnb. Yet, Airbnb has not blacklisted any of those countries.

There are dozens of nations involved in territorial and border disputes. Yet, Airbnb has avoided weighing in on any of them. Of all the disputed territories in the world and their political and historical complexities, Airbnb has decided to express its virtue signal in only one of them. The one involving Israel. And to add insult to sanctimonious posturing, only Jewish homes have been delisted.

But none of this is about history. As those who follow financial markets know, Airbnb has a highly likely public offering headed for those markets in 2019, despite giving mixed signals about it. In order to make the offering more acceptable to Arab regimes and the anti-Israel-obsessed U.N. Human Rights Commission, Airbnb has probably decided to sacrifice Jewish business and sensitivities while overlooking its anti-Semitism for financial gain.

But Airbnb might find exploiting hatred for financial gain to be a terrible financial as well as moral miscalculation, Jews and all people of high moral character, should also stay away from any public offering should it emerge next year. The morality silenced by the anti-Semitic Human Rights Commission might yet find its voice in the financial markets.

• Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow of the Haym Salomon Center.

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