'Airbnb made news in November when it declared it would remove its listing from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. This declaration preempted a Human Rights Watch report on Airbnb and Booking.com, where Booking.com kept its silence.
Yet, shortly after its announcement Airbnb met with Israeli government officials and announced that it would not be implementing the policy after all. It then issued a maddening set of contradictory statements, which amounted to it wanting to both have its settlement-cake and eat it too. As of this week, Airbnb has yet to implement its new ban policy, as Judy Maltz noted yesterday in Haaretz. In other words, Airbnb is profiting from war crimes, and hoping that it will be forgotten, while it obfuscates its criminality with contradictory statements.
The story continues. Yesterday, Amnesty International released a report titled “Destination: Occupation”. In addition to Airbnb and Booking.com, Amnesty also targets Expedia and TripAdvisor:
Digital companies are revolutionizing how the world does tourism. Corporations like Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor, which dominate the multi-billion-dollar global online tourism industry, have become hugely successful. These companies all also list numerous hotels, B&Bs, attractions or tours in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). They are doing so despite knowing that Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law, and a war crime.
Amnesty notes the hypocrisy of these companies when it comes to “ethical values” in no uncertain terms:
All four companies claim to operate under high ethical values and respect for the rule of law. However, none of these standards appears to influence the companies’ decisions in relation to settlement listings. In doing business with settlements, all four companies are contributing to, and profiting from, the maintenance, development and expansion of illegal settlements, which amount to war crimes under international criminal law. Their promotion of Israeli settlements in the OPT as a tourist destination also has the effect of “normalizing”, and legitimizing to the public what is recognized under international law as an illegal situation.
Read more: New Amnesty report examines how Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor benefit from the Israeli occupation