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American Jews Sue Airbnb, Alleging Anti-Semitic Discrimination

(JTA) — Five American Jewish citizens filed a lawsuit against Airbnb alleging the company’s policy to ban listings from Jewish West Bank settlements discriminates against Jews.

Two of the five plaintiffs also are Israeli citizens and live in Efrat in the West Bank.

The lawsuit was filed last week in San Francisco, where Airbnb is based.  It alleges that Airbnb’s policy is discriminatory, because it applies only to West Bank Jewish residents and leaves untouched listings from Arab or Palestinian towns there.

Airbnb announced in November that it would remove listings in West Bank Jewish settlements, and last week updated the areas it would delist, adding South Ossetia and Abhkazia, two contested autonomous areas in the republic of Georgia.

A visit to the Airbnb website shows that rentals in Jewish settlements remain posted. The company said last week in a statement that it is “working with experts to develop and validate the means to implement our policy.”

“Airbnb is eyeing the Israeli market to increase its offerings in the Middle East. It is inconceivable that Airbnb would at the same time alter its longstanding policy against complying with the anti-Semitic BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement by delisting Jewish/Israeli accommodations in Judea and Samaria, while continuing to permit Arab homeowners located literally across the road to participate in the Airbnb program,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Marc Zell, said in a statement, the San Francisco CBS affiliate reported.

In late November, a group of 18 Jewish Americans, most who own property in Israel, filed a civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Delaware alleging that the internet hospitality firm has enacted a new policy discriminating against them based on their religion.

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