A British Airbnb host refused to rent an apartment to an Israeli traveller on the basis that Israelis don’t respect “basic human rights.”
Tel Aviv photographer Ben Kelmer reserved a £60-a-night apartment for a week in March through the online company, which has come under fire recently for listing properties in West Bank settlements. In some cases, the listings indicate that the properties are in Israel proper.
When Kelmer approached the prospective host about the property in Marble Arch, London with a question about public transportation, he was met with a rebuff and accused of “occupying someone’s land,” the Jewish News reported.
It read: “This is how the world pictures you: aggressive settlers occupying land, destroying houses. In a few words: not respecting basic human rights.
“On that basis, I just cannot even consider hosting you, even if you pay me millions.”
The exchange didn’t end there. In a strongly-worded post on the company’s Facebook page, Kelmer hit back at the host’s conduct.
He said: “Individuals are not their governments! Are all Iranians extensions of their gay-hanging, woman-stoning regime?
“We were served a healthy dose of Grade A, European bigotry and discrimination at its finest, poorly masked as so-called, socially-conscious political protest of the worst, most prejudiced kind, that is strictly reserved to Israelis.
“Well done on promoting dialogue and building bridges.”
Other users said the incident was “appalling,” while Airbnb have pledged to “follow up…as soon as possible”.
The firm said: “Thanks for bringing this to our attention Ben, we’re truly sorry you had this experience, because this is not what we pride from the Airbnb community.
“Please rest assured that we take cases like yours very seriously.”
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, this is not the first time an Israeli traveller has been rejected on the basis of his or her nationality.
In December, a 13-year-old Israeli girl received a somewhat similar rebuff from a British citizen. When Shachar Rabinovitch of Zichron Yaakov emailed Marsha Levine, a former academic at the University of Cambridge, with questions for a research project on horses, Levine responded that she supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
“You might be a child, but if you are old enough to write to me, you are old enough to learn about Israeli history and how it has impacted on the lives of Palestinian people,” Levine wrote.
For its part, Airbnb issued the following statement: “Discrimination has no place on Airbnb and we have removed this host from our community. We are proud to have one of the most open, trusted, diverse and transparent communities in the world and investigate any claims we receive.”
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