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the pulpitBoycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

An unnecessary divide: Confronting J Street

J Street cannot call itself pro-Israel while justifying Airbnb’s discrimination against Jews.

Yoni Michanie
Yoni Michanie
Yoni Michanie, a former paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces, holds a master’s degree in diplomacy and international security from IDC Herzliya. He is an Israel advocate, public speaker, Middle East analyst, and a campus adviser and strategic planner at CAMERA.

While the Jewish community around the world, as displayed by the comments of the Anti-Defamation League, finds common ground over Airbnb’s recent decision to boycott Jewish homes in the West Bank, J Street is busy trying to undermine that consensus.

J Street, self-described as “pro-Israel, pro-peace,” condoned Airbnb’s action by the following:

“Airbnb is not boycotting Israel. They are choosing not to do business inside West Bank settlements, in occupied territory. Any official who acts against Airbnb for this decision is defending the occupation, not Israel.”

Wrong. There cogent reasons why Airbnb’s policy has been widely regarded as anti-Semitic.  Begin with the company’s press release:

“In 2016, Airbnb launched our Community Commitment, which requires all members of our community to affirmatively agree to “treat everyone in the Airbnb Community—regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.”

Yet Airbnb showed inconsistency by refusing to address listings in other disputed territories including occupied Tibet, Western Sahara, Northern Cyprus and many more around the globe. By failing to establish a consistent standard among the community of nations, Airbnb chose to support the BDS movement and its inherent anti-Semitic nature. In short, the company targeted Jews and only Jews.

And it chose to do it a mere two weeks after the most devastating shooting attack in the history of the Jewish-American community, as well as the largest indiscriminate barrage of rockets into Israel by the terror organization, Hamas.

At a point in time when, despite where our political differences seemed to bend, the Jewish community united across the spectrum of observance to stand up to hate and anti-Semitism in the United States.

To explain the drastic rise in anti-Semitism in the United States, many blame the incumbent administration, some blame the media, and others blame the cover provided by the millennial social justice movement. Needless to say that CNN’s recent poll, which showed that nearly a quarter of Europeans believe that Jews hold “too much” influence in media and politics, alarmed the Jewish communities from the United Kingdom to Poland.

Just as terrorism and wars have historically united Israelis with political, social, and cultural differences, anti-Semitism has done the same for Jews across the globe.

In Argentina, it took the 1992 bombing of the Israel embassy to unite the largest Jewish community in South America.

In the United Kingdom, it is the growing anti-Semitism among the leadership of the Labour Party that has started to unite the Jewish community in the United Kingdom.

In the United States, Pittsburgh was the tragedy. The despicable shooting of the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue had sparked a chain reaction among the majority of Jews in America calling for immediate action against the growth of anti-Semitism.

The practice of BDS, with all its false accusations against the State of Israel, does not yield peace. It yields violence by falsely and solely blaming Israel for the conflict and abandoning negotiations.

J Street cannot call itself pro-Israel while justifying Airbnb’s discrimination against Jews. Such discrimination is obviously not pro-Israel, since it does not recognize credible concerns that many Israelis have about Palestinian officials using foreign aid to fund terror networks throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

In a clear violation of its own mission statement, J Street has misled its followers and sought to create a dangerous divide among the Jewish community in America.

I commend the city of Beverly Hills for condemning Airbnb’s decision to boycott Jewish settlements in the West Bank and urge States across the country to recognize Airbnb’s ethical inconsistency by only targeting Jewish homes in the disputed territories.

Now is the time to unite, to identify the threat and put our political differences aside. For the first time in history, we are strong enough to push back and combat anti-Semitism in all its forms.

The Maccabees did it with much less. Let us remember our own history and rise above the divide that organizations like J Street seek to create.

Yoni Michanie serves as CAMERA’s West Coast Campus Coordinator and #IDF veteran.

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