The Airbnb controversy continues, after what appears to have been a series of missteps and misunderstandings resulting from conversations of an Airbnb executive with Israeli officials and in particular the Minister of Tourism, Yariv Levin.
Following the meeting, Minister Levin issued a statement indicating that Airbnb was reversing its policy of boycotting Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria. This was followed by a statement from the local Airbnb office suggesting the same. However, Airbnb officials in the US denied that there had been any change; they were continuing to adhere to their discriminatory policy. It is of significance, not because of the economic impact, but the precedent that it sets to single out this one geographic area amongst numerous “disputed” territories. Despite the company’s claims that it does not support BDS and will continue to invest in Israel, the claims of victory by Palestinian, BDS, and other anti-Israel groups underscores the seriousness of this move. We are disappointed by Airbnb’s refusal to reconsider and believe the mixed messages were a deliberate effort to confuse the situation and deter those who oppose their action.
It would appear that responsibility rests with Chris Lehane, Head of Global Policy and Communications for Airbnb. He participated in the meeting with the minister and appears steadfast in his opposition to reversing the policy on sound business motives as well as moral grounds.
It would be prudent at this juncture to launch a full-scale investigation into whether an underlying political agenda exists at the highest levels of Airbnb corporate management. After scrupulously reviewing the career profile of Mr. Lehane (on the Wikipedia web site) it has become abundantly clear that Airbnb’s decision to boycott host in Judea and Samaria was rife with political objectives; all of which are nefarious in nature.
One can now gain a cogent grasp of why Airbnb released their announcement of the boycott only a day before a Human Rights Watch report was made public regarding its continued opposition to Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. It appears that pieces of a puzzle are beginning to fit and it looks like some kind of political alliance may exist between the two.
Among the plethora of Mr. Lehane’s politically left credentials include his close association with the Clintons, Al Gore, filmmaker Michael Moore and others. According to Wikipedia, Lehane was brought into the Clinton White House where he served in helping to manage various scandals throughout the 1990s such as Whitewater and the Monica Lewinsky affair.
Lehane gained notoriety for his opposition research work targeting Republican candidates and policies that were not in sync with the Democratic party platform.
In his 2010 book, President George W. Bush’s top political strategist Karl Rove said Lehane made George W. Bush’s DWI history public just before the election and it was the basis for Gore winning the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election.
Wikipedia adds that Lehane is often included in discussions of bare knuckled methodologies employed by political campaign consultants, including feeding information to selected media outlets.
The New York Times labeled Lehane the “Master of the Political Dark Arts” for his opposition research work. What is also quite telling is Lehane’s entertainment endeavors. It has included helping Michael Moore with his films such as Fahrenheit 911 and Sicko. Moore has been public about his own anti-Israel posture. Moore has also continued to perpetuate the insidious myth that the Palestinians have been systematically oppressed by Israel and their land has been stolen from them.
So, does Lehane’s political proclivities have any bearing on his position concerning the status of Judea and Samaria and his belief that it should not be under Israeli sovereignty? Judging from Lehane’s career profile and the causes he has attached himself to, one would not be surprised at all to learn that that he was instrumental in crafting the ill-advised Airbnb decision to boycott hosts in Judea and Samaria.
With an IPO due this spring, Airbnb will face the reality that many state pension plans will be unable to invest, banks will be reluctant to participate, and there will be numerous lawsuits because of federal and state laws against participating in anti-Israel boycotts.
It is not too late for reasonable voices within Airbnb to be heard and, at the very least, the policy suspended for reconsideration. Many of Israel’s friends use Airbnb but will find it difficult to do so should they fail to act.
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