Texas Blacklists Airbnb Over Israeli Settlement Boycott

Texas passed a law in 2017 prohibiting government contractors from engaging in boycotts of Israel

FILE PHOTO: The logos of Airbnb Inc. sit on banners displayed outside a media event in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 27, 2015
Bloomberg

The state of Texas blacklisted Airbnb for its decision to remove listings of rooms and homes for rent in West Bank Jewish settlements.

Airbnb on Friday was placed on the state’s “List of Companies that Boycott Israel” by Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar.

Texas in 2017 passed a law prohibiting government contractors from engaging in boycotts of Israel, in a move meant to counter the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, or BDS. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit in Texas against the law, calling it an unwarranted violation of Americans’ right to free speech.

>> Read more: Why Airbnb will have a hard time enforcing its Israeli settlement ban ■ Hurray for Airbnb 

Under the law, Airbnb has 90 days to prove that it does not boycott Israel nor has taken action against it. Otherwise, the State of Texas “shall sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly traded securities of the company.”

Airbnb operates in 191 countries and regions and more than 81,000 cities. A brief check Sunday on its website shows that rentals in West Bank Jewish settlements remain listed.

Airbnb announced in November that it would remove the listings of some 200 apartments and homes for rent in the settlements, but not in Palestinian communities. The company said it consulted with experts to learn about the historical disputes in the region to decide whether it should be doing business in “the occupied territories.”

Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon on Saturday said: “We welcome this decision very much and we hope that it will be emulated by other states and other countries in the world.”

“We unequivocally reject and oppose the BDS movement and are disappointed by the [Texas] decision,” the company told Israeli media outlets.

“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.”

In January, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said his state would take action against Airbnb for the settlement boycott, including suspending the use of Airbnb for state-paid travel and considering preventing its pension fund from investing in the firm.