An Open Letter to Airbnb from a Superhost

Amnesty International staged a demonstration outside the UK headquarters of TripAdvisor on January 30, 2019. Amnesty released a report on that day outlining how Airbnb and other travel companies enable “war crimes” in the occupied West Bank. (TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Human Rights

Editor’s note: In November 2018, Airbnb announced that it would no longer allow rental properties in illegal West Bank settlements to be listed on its website. On April 9, after facing months of pressure from pro-Israel groups, the company reversed its decision.
Dear Airbnb,
I am writing to ask that you reconsider your decision to allow settlers in the West Bank to use the Airbnb platform to host guests in the settlements—an extremely segregated environment. By now I know that you have heard from Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights, so I won’t repeat their arguments.
As a “Superhost,” [a host recognized by Airbnb for the extraordinary experiences they provide to guests] I take pride in my ability to accommodate the needs and wants of people from all walks of life. In turn, I have had the honor of hosting extraordinary people from across the globe. My guests have come from China, Peru, Puerto Rico, New York, Denver, Hawaii, Baltimore and so many more places. If you check my account you will note that they often return. The sign in my front yard reads in English, Spanish and Arabic: “No Matter Where You Are From, We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor.” These are not meaningless words. Hence, you can imagine my distress when I read that Airbnb will allow Jewish settlers in the West Bank—settlements on stolen lands that are notoriously segregated—to be part of this organization that declares itself a community of “belonging.” I’m sure you are aware that while that land belonged to Palestinian families not very long ago, they are now denied access. “Belonging” is meant for everyone—except Palestinians.
Know that I have traveled to the Palestinian territories three times since 2003 and have witnessed how segregation and apartheid conditions have worsened over time. I have traveled on roads that Palestinian Arabs are denied access to—the color of the license plates, distinguishing Jews from Palestinian Arabs (Yellow & Green), need no explanation. I have traveled in buses on a number of occasions only to witness Palestinians being removed and questioned by soldiers simply because of their religion or ethnicity. In one instance an elderly woman was removed and not allowed back on the bus because she had a tear in her passbook. She was forced to stand in the hot sun while her belongings remained on the bus as it pulled away. Settlers and soldiers treat the Palestinian people with great disdain and contempt that often ends in brutality against the marginalized and oppressed population.
In 2015, I was in a village adjacent to Duma, south of Nablus, at nearly the exact time when an 18-month-old baby and his parents were burned to death by Israeli settlers who spent little time in prison, if at all, for this heinous crime. I can only imagine that this is not the environment you want your guests to experience.
I urge you to reconsider your decision to allow the settlements to host on the Airbnb platform.
Kate Daher
Pittsburgh, PA.

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