On balance, Gov. Ron DeSantis has been a bipartisan surprise. He’s no Rick Scott. Seemingly, not even close. But his stand on Airbnb andIsrael seems like a disingenuous regression. For the record, DeSantis says the company risks sanctions by discriminating against Israel. As a result, Florida is considering whether to put the popular tourism service on a state list of scrutinized companies that boycott Israel. “We have a moral obligation to oppose the Airbnb policy,” stated DeSantis, who attended the opening of the relocated U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. “It does target Jews specifically. I think that’s wrong.”
But context matters. This is not anti-Semitism. This is about Airbnb’s decision not to list some 200 properties in the West Bank because, it says, it was uncomfortable doing business in an “occupied territory.” The West Bank, as we know, is land Israel claimed after the 1967 war. The United Nations, which has scrutinized the territory more than Florida’s State Board of Administration has, does consider the West Bank an occupied territory.
Moreover, this is hardly reflective of how Airbnb treats Israel, per se. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be doing business with more than 20,000 Israeli hosts in Jerusalem. For what it’s worth, Airbnb no longer does business in Crimea. Doing business in problematic areas of de-facto occupation is arguably at odds with their business model, even if Ron DeSantis and Sheldon Adelson disagree. It’s Airbnb’s call, and they shouldn’t be called on it if it’s not anti-Semitic discrimination.