(November 20, 2018 / JNS)
Two years ago, my wife and I built our bed and breakfast, “Ruth’s Home,” in the community of Sde Boaz, just outside Bethlehem. The B&B we built with our own two hands is specifically for couples; no children.
For the past two years we’ve hosted people from all over the world who came to relax, forget the daily craziness and reconnect with themselves. Our B&B is dedicated to dialogue, to conversation between people and to human connection. It is not a place of for and against. The latest boycott, launched by Airbnb against Israel, will only serve to destroy what we have built.
Airbnb’s decision to boycott us is idiotic and hypocritical. Boycotting 400,000 Jews is anti-Semitism par excellence. They’ll call it anti-Zionism, but it’s the same anti-Semitism, just packaged differently. It’s hypocritical because the boycotters are quite content to use Israeli-made pacemakers or our cyber software.
It’s hypocritical because individuals shouldn’t be boycotted because of politics. When I travel abroad, I rent an apartment from a private citizen, and it doesn’t make me a supporter of one cause or another. This applies anywhere from Israel to China to Saudi Arabia.
As a settler who has built outposts and identifies on the far right of the political map, I want people in Bethlehem and Gaza, my neighbors, even if not always my friends, to make a living. The stupidity of this boycott only detracts from this desire; it pushes peace farther away. Anyone who wants to see coexistence should come to Gush Etzion Junction, where Jews and Arabs do their shopping peacefully together. Those who boycott are trying to fan the flames of hatred and negativity.
Over the past eight months, we’ve welcomed guests through Airbnb. The boycott won’t have a dramatic financial impact on me, but I know people whose businesses rely heavily on these sites, and for them, the damage will be significant.
Therefore, I hope that people like me, who take vacations, will make a point of patronizing the very businesses that are subjected to such boycotts, spearheaded by Roger Waters and his buddies. I hope they’ll buy products manufactured in the Golan Heights, in Barkan, in the Israeli communities along the Gaza border or in Judea and Samaria. You know what? I hope they also buy products manufactured by Bedouin, not just Jews. Products that aren’t for or against anything. We don’t hate; we love.
Decisions like this won’t move us from here, and the BDS movement and Roger Waters won’t dictate where I vacation or what I buy. With that, these decisions do hurt people.
Now is the time to support one another and show the world how great this country is.
We should visit and support Sderot when Hamas-launched rockets from Gaza strike. We should buy products from the Barkan Industrial Park because today it’s Judea and Samaria, and tomorrow it’s northern and central Israel. This is racism, pure and simple, and we cannot lend a hand to it. We must condemn it, and more importantly, we need to make it clear that boycotts won’t stop us from our livelihoods … and our lives.
Gidi Kalman owns a bed-and-breakfast establishment in northern Israel.