Airbnb is up against another discrimination lawsuit, with eighteen Americans, who are dual-Israeli citizens, at the heart of the suit. On November 28th, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the federal court in Delaware, stating that Airbnb violated the U.S. Fair Housing Act by discriminating for religious reasons. The hosting company is allegedly excluding Jewish hosts in the West Bank, while non-Israeli hosts are still allowed to list rental properties in Palestinian territory.
Nearly 200 listings were removed, and the Airbnb hosts involved in the suit are asking for financial compensation as well as a reversal of Airbnb’s decision to pull the listings from their site.
Before any grievances were filed, Airbnb announced on their blog their choice to deactivate listings in West Bank on November 19, just one day before Human Rights Watch published a report on the company’s business in the region.
“In the past, we made clear that we would operate in this area as allowed by law. We did this because we believe that people-to-people travel has considerable value and we want to help bring people together in as many places as possible around the world,” Airbnb stated. “We also explained that going forward we would ask questions, listen to experts, seek out our community for their thoughts, and continue to learn.”
They ultimately came to this conclusion, “When we applied our decision-making framework, we concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.” The company noted that many would disagree with their decision as it is a controversial issue.
This looks to be the start of a legal battle. The attorneys for the plaintiffs said there could hundreds of others Jewish homeowners in Israel dealing with similar circumstances that may join in the suit.