What the heck is Airbnb doing in Israel? Lying, apparently

As much as I remain a supporter of the gig economy in general, I recently had to come to terms with the fact that Airbnb has been up to some nasty business in Israel. They were allegedly implementing a policy which wound up suspending the accounts of Jewish people living in the West Bank, claiming that the settlements were a human rights violation or something.

That led to an understandable uproar back in the United States, with accusations of antisemitism being directed at the home-sharing service. So it was a heartening surprise when I saw a report at Legal Insurrection yesterday claiming that the company had reversed course and would not be putting the antisemitic plan into effect.

Airbnb’s decision to remove their listings in Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank will not be implemented, according to Israel’s Ministry of Tourism.

After the meeting between Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Vice President of Airbnb Chris Lahan, Levin said that he will continue to act in coordination with Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely to ensure that all Israeli citizens receive equal treatment.

So, great news, right? After being called out they decided to do the right thing. But wait… not so fast. It turns out that the announcement linked above was only put out to Israeli press outlets and it was written in Hebrew. There was a second announcement that went out in English which said the exact opposite thing. The policy will still be moving forward after all. (Free Beacon)

Airbnb is denying widespread reports Monday it was suspending its recently announced policy to exclude Israeli settlement homes in the West Bank from its listings, creating confusion when it appeared to release contradictory statements in English and Hebrew about the matter.

Multiple outlets reported earlier in the day on the company, an online marketplace for users to rent private homes around the world, had said the policy “will not be implemented.” However, it later called those reports inaccurate and said it was meeting with “a variety of stakeholders” to gain an “even deeper understanding that this is an incredibly complex and emotional issue.”

A spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon the earlier statement was “released in error.”

The statement was “released in error?” Excuse me, but you should try pulling the other one. It’s got bells on it.

This wasn’t a case of two managers releasing a memo with a slight difference or the wrong date. The announcement in Hebrew was directly contradicting what they were telling everyone else and as soon as somebody highlighted the English version of it they totally denied it. What sort of a scam are they trying to run here?

What seems obvious, though hard to believe in 2018, is that Airbnb thought they could put out a statement to the Israeli press saying they were abandoning the policy and the rest of the world wouldn’t notice. Then they could go ahead and basically shadowban the Israeli users in the West Bank and impress their BDS friends back home in America. But we live in the internet era. Did they honestly think nobody would find out?

If the company plans to single out West Bank Jews for special treatment in this fashion, they’re going to have to live with the consequences from their customer base. But this sort of attempted trickery only compounds their sins rather than erasing them.

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