Taking the Air Out of Airbnb

Taking the Air Out of Airbnb

Avi Koenig, seated at center, delivers testimony to the Town Board.

A few weeks ago Airbnb implemented a change in policy and decided to blacklist Jewish homes located in the West Bank.

Upon hearing of this, students at Rambam Mesivta signed a petition and contacted Councilman Bruce Blakeman and Assemblyman David Weprin. Both representatives expressed their strong concern over the issue, realizing that Airbnb was buckling under pressure of Palestinian sympathizers.

Reading that the Beverly Hills City Council passed resolutions condemning Airbnb’s

decision, Rabbi Zev Friedman suggested the same could be done on the East Coast.

The Beverly Hills resolution reads in part, “In the event that Airbnb does not stop, we call upon all civilized people across the globe to boycott Airbnbuntil such time as they desist from these despicable anti-Semitic actions.”

Avi Koenig, seated at center, delivers testimony to the Town Board.

Councilman Blakeman and the Town of Hempstead swung into action. They held a special meeting to formulate a response to Airbnb and invited the students from Rambam to participate. They asked for two students to testify before the committee before a vote was to be held. Twelfth grade student, Eliyahu Levy, addressed the assembly and said that based upon their new policy, one would expect to see Airbnb stop listing homes in places like Crimea, Kosovo and other disputed territories around the globe. But that is not the case. Instead they chose to single out Israel. Airbnb lists property in war-torn areas where over 400,000 people have been displaced. “Their boycott of homes is not fueled by a moral compass but rather stems from a thinly veiled anti-Semitic and discriminatory bias against the Jewish State.”

Eleventh grader Avi Koenig testified as to the inconsistencies of recent policy – pointing out that the blacklisting only applied to Jewish homes in the West Bank and did not apply to Arab homes in the same geographic area. He also pointed out to the committee that the new policy violates the export administration act of 1979 and Ribicoff Amendment of the 1976 Tax Reform Act which states that US firms cannot participate in foreign boycotts that the United States itself does not sanction.

Rabbi Friedman addressed the committee and stated that BDS does not really stand for boycott, divestment and sanctions but rather for Bias, Discrimination and Segregation.

He joined all of the Rambam students present, calling upon the members of the Hempstead Town Board to put forth a resolution that condemns Airbnb and put the company on notice that discrimination will not be tolerated.

Councilman Blakeman put forth resolution which was then unanimously passed!

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