A popular meme on social media here shows an illustration of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. “Why did Mary and Joseph stay in a stable?” asks one version. “Because Airbnb blocked all listings for Jews in Judea,” the Hebrew term for the West Bank.
The meme plays on last week’s announcement by Airbnb, the online lodging app, that it had pulled all 200 listings from “Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank,” which it said is “at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Another in the series of biblical riffs on Airbnb’s decision shows the Jewish patriarch Abraham, who in the Book of Genesis entertains three messengers from God in his tent, turning away guests.
Activists in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement have long urged Airbnb and other companies to stop doing business in Israel until it relinquishes the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which it captured during the 1967 Middle East war.
Airbnb’s decision to comply has generated a firestorm of controversy and allegations of anti-Semitism against the company.
Eugene Kontorovich, a professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law, said Airbnb’s new policy is anti-Semitic and may violate discrimination laws.