Airbnb: More Dangerous Than Pittsburgh

After the horrific attack upon a synagogue in Pittsburgh, I wrote that it is tremendously misguided, not to mention dangerous, to associate anti-Semitism with any single political cause. Rather, extremists at both ends of the political spectrum fall into the same trap. As I wrote then, “That Louis Farrakhan referred to Jews as termites, while the Tree of Life murderer referred to a ‘kike infestation,’ is no coincidence.”

Airbnb, an American company given to ostentatious displays of left-wing rectitude even as it causes unending grief for cities and homeowners, recently announced it would no longer list short-term rental properties in what it describes as “the occupied West Bank.” Not only is this anti-Semitic, but this form of anti-Semitism is in fact much more dangerous than what happened in Pittsburgh last month.

This may appear to be an astounding statement. Why is this obviously anti-Semitic, and how could denial of property listings somehow be more dangerous than a gunman openly murdering Jews?

Begin with the fact that an explanation of the anti-Semitic nature of this decision is even necessary, although it is obvious. It is so obvious that a continuous, leftist false narrative has been necessary to mask it.

There are numerous areas around the world where a government is occupying and controlling the homeland of a distinct ethnicity, a different people, and even forcing them from their homes. Prominent examples include Northern Cyprus, Chechnya, the Western Sahara, and Tibet. According to Airbnb’s own statement that “companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced,” Airbnb’s continued business in those locations is a moral abomination.

In fact, it is not, because it is never appropriate to target individual citizens. In most cases, it isn’t feasible, either—it is difficult to know if a particular home is owned by members of the occupying or indigenous populations, or even by a third party.

Only thanks to the Oslo Accords can one distinguish a “settler” from a “Palestinian”—and the homes of the latter are not targeted. Indeed, the only unique facet of the homes delisted by Airbnb, contrary to its practices in every other location where it is permitted to operate by law, is that these homes are owned by Jews.

In the wake of the Arab armies’ catastrophic loss in 1967, after their third organized attempt to destroy the young nation of Israel, the United Nations passed Resolution 242 calling for a peaceful end to the conflict. One who reads this document is shocked to learn that Israel is neither expected to withdraw to its 1967 borders, nor to withdraw at all prior to conclusion of a comprehensive peace agreement with full recognition of all parties. At a time when the Palestinian Authority is actively rewarding murderers, and its logo depicts its borders as comprising all of Israel, a claim that Israel is violating international law by permitting its citizens to live in contested areas is utterly vacuous.

It is also morally abhorrent. The city of Hebron is depicted as a “Palestinian” city with an “Israeli settlement.” In fact, Hebron has enjoyed nearly 3,500 years as a city with unique significance in Judaism: it is identified as the burial place of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, along with their wives. Jews have never left that city voluntarily, and most recently that was a consequence of the 1929 Arab massacre. So to call Hebron a “Palestinian” city inverts reality, and endorses the result of ethnic cleansing.

Finally, boycotting Israel is an exemplary paradigm for the word “counterproductive.” Not only did the Arabs boycott Jewish settlement in then-Palestine before Israel’s formation, but it was a tactic they learned from the Nazis, who began with their boycott in 1932. So today’s boycotters claim to believe that replicating an old Nazi tactic is a good way to convince Jews to compromise the security of their children. One has to be an idiot, an ignoramus, or truly evil, to imagine Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS) to be a good idea.

And that is what makes the Airbnb move so dangerous: the company now traffics in evil.

The belief that all Jewish property is somehow stolen, acquired fraudulently, is a basic notion of anti-Semitism identified in rabbinic thought for hundreds of years, and traced back directly to the Bible itself. That is what we find today in the fundamentally wrongheaded depiction of Jewish presence in Hebron and elsewhere as an “occupation” of marauders from the Arabian Peninsula. It is a return to old, hateful lies.

No one in positions of legitimate influence or power endorses the behavior of the murderer in Pittsburgh. But numerous organizations, and left-wing politicians such as Rashida Tlaib, favor boycotts of Jews to “punish” them for living in their homeland.

This lie rapidly leads to an equally false corollary: “resistance is justified, when people are occupied.” By “resistance” they mean, of course, the murder of civilians. Civilian casualties nearly destroyed the Irish Republican Army and completely ended the Chechen rebellion, although both were truly indigenous people fighting occupation. No one tolerates the murder of civilians in any situation, unless, once again, the victims are Jews.

Condemnations of Israel’s defense at the Gaza border, while ignoring the war crimes that demanded Israel’s response, just encourages the murderers. Consider the number of knife, gun, and missile attacks against Jews in Israel, and it is obvious that the incitement leads to far more casualties over time than do a few neo-Nazi shooters. And this is the thinking with which the unthinking left-wingers at Airbnb have aligned themselves.

Photo Credit: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

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About Rabbi Yaakov Menken

Rabbi Yaakov Menken is the Managing Director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, the largest Rabbinic public policy organization in America.