In one of the lawsuits that Airbnb settled, 12 American Jewish families, who are prospective Airbnb hosts or guests in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, claimed that the policy discriminated against them on the basis of their religion.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a lawyer for the plaintiffs and president of the pro-Israel Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, which organized the lawsuit, said in a statement on Tuesday that other international companies should take note that “boycotting Israel and discriminating against Jews are unlawful acts which will ultimately result in dire legal consequences, public condemnations and embarrassment.”
That lawsuit was filed in federal court in Delaware, where Airbnb is incorporated. The other three Airbnb legal settlements were related to litigation based in New York, California and Israel.
At the crux of the lawsuit in Delaware was the plaintiffs’ objection to Airbnb’s singling out the West Bank in putting the policy in place despite the existence of other disputed territories around the world, said Robert Tolchin, a New York-based lawyer for the plaintiffs.
In January, Airbnb expanded that policy to other regions with an announcement that it would also remove listings in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, disputed territories in the Caucasus. Airbnb said Tuesday that its West Bank policy would also be applied to that region, as well as other places where the company determined housing was “central to ongoing tensions.”
In its statement on Tuesday, Airbnb disavowed the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, known as B.D.S., which Israeli politicians accused it of supporting after the announcement of the policy last year.
Human Rights Watch, the advocacy organization, had urged Airbnb to remove listings of properties in Israeli settlements. Shortly after the November announcement, the organization released a report analyzing the status of the land on which 139 Airbnb properties in the Israeli settlements were located. The report said that rental companies like Airbnb allowed the settlements to be more profitable and sustainable, which facilitates Israel’s “unlawful transfer of its citizens to the settlements.”