Florida takes step towards sanctioning Airbnb

Florida to place Airbnb on its scrutinized companies list in wake of its decision to boycott properties in Judea and Samaria.

Elad Benari,

Airbnb
Airbnb
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Florida on Tuesday took a step toward imposing economic sanctions on the popular home-sharing platform Airbnb following its decision against listing properties in Judea and Samaria.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, acting as the State Board of Administration, agreed to place Airbnb on the state’s scrutinized companies list. The list prohibits state investment in companies that boycott Israel.

DeSantis said he hopes the state’s action causes Airbnb, which has been working to go public later this year, to reverse its decision.

“If we allow Israel to be singled out for commercial discrimination, it’s only going to snowball,” DeSantis said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“You’re going to have more and more people joining, you’ll have more governments get involved, and then all of a sudden this one country, that’s trying to do it the right way, standing for the right values, it’s both literally and figuratively made the desert bloom, that they will be in an even more precarious situation,” he added.

Airbnb caused an uproar in November of 2018 when it decided to remove listings for about 200 homes in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Earlier this month, DeSantis threatened the online lodging website with sanctions over its decision, noting the policy is discriminatory and may violate a state law that prohibits Florida from doing business with companies that boycott Israel.

Airbnb, which has 90 days to respond to Tuesday’s action, issued a statement after the meeting reiterating that it “unequivocally” rejects the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“There are over 20,000 Airbnb hosts in Israel who open their doors and showcase the best of Israeli hospitality to guests from around the world, which boosts local families, businesses and communities,” the company statement said.

“Our community of hosts in Israel has already welcomed more than 1 million guests and we will continue to invest in Israel.”

Last month, an independent board in Illinois voted to notify Airbnb that it is violating state laws barring the economic boycott of Israel, making Illinois the first state to take firm action against the online lodging company.

In addition, a group of Jewish Americans sued Airbnb Inc. in a US federal court following its decision to boycott Israeli communities, accusing the company of religious discrimination.

A separate lawsuit challenging Airbnb’s policy was filed in a Jerusalem court on November 22.




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