Lodging app Airbnb allows guests to book stays in cozy cabins in Alaska, villas in Indonesia, and just about everywhere in between. But in November 2018, after Palestinian officials and organizers announced their disapproval of the company’s listings inside illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, Airbnb announced that it would no longer allow such listings inside the occupied territory. A few months later, after several suits from Israeli and American hosts and guests claiming discrimination, Airbnb reversed its decision and returned the listings to the site.
Israeli settlements inside the West Bank have been globally recognized as illegal under international law since Israel began occupying the territory in 1967.
Today, activists are urging Airbnb users to deactivate their accounts in protest of the company’s decision to continue providing a platform for tourism inside an occupied territory. May 15, Nakba Day, is the annual commemoration of The Nakba, when Zionist militaries forcibly displaced more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948. (Some use the term Nakba to refer to the ongoing displacement and violence faced by Palestinians.) More than 30 groups, including the official Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and human rights organization SumOfUs have joined Jewish Voice for Peace, the group that began the callout, using the hashtag #DeactivateAirbnb.
“The ongoing Nakba means that, right now on Airbnb, Palestinians who were forced from their land and homes and illegally prevented from returning watch as tourists visit Palestinian land that Palestinians aren’t allowed to enter and rent out,” said Granate Kim, communications director at Jewish Voice for Peace.