The anti-Semitic organization that bills itself as a “human rights watch group”, Amnesty International has released a report targeting the burgeoning international tourism in the eastern Israeli regions of Jude and Samaria. In a move designed to disrupt the distribution and marketing channels for the providers of tourist accommodations in the region, Amnesty targeted specifically the digital reservations services Airbnb, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and Expedia. Amnesty claims to have found 400 total listings in Judea and Samaria and it further claims that by providing a platform for these businesses the aforementioned companies are facilitating “crimes against the Palestinian people” because these tourist accommodations are located in “illegally occupied territories”.
The reality on the ground is that while the final status of these territories is being discussed internally within both the Arab and the Jewish communities, businesses like tourist accommodations provide the best hope of peaceful coexistence because they bring together members of the two groups and provide for them the means to improve both their lives. Jewish businesses in the disputed areas employ both Jews and Arabs and international tourists who visit the historically, culturally, and religiously important areas that were the birthplace of both Judaism and Christianity rarely stay only in Jewish-owned accommodations. Rather, they are equally likely to frequent Arab-owned establishments as well as use Arab-owned transportation, eat in Arab-owned restaurants, etc.
It is specifically this peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs with the inevitable economic prosperity and normalization that it produces for the benefit of both communities that is so intolerable to anti-Semitic groups and organizations like BDS and Amnesty, which is why businesses like the successful Sodastream company and now the tourist accommodations operators have progressively become the focus of vicious defamation campaigns. Fortunately, it appears that the latest push back from many powerful interests in the US and elsewhere against Airbnb’s decision (since reversed) to de-list properties in Judea and Samaria have born fruit and at the time of writing it does not appear that the listing services targeted by Amnesty are succumbing to its illegitimate pressure to stop listing Jewish properties in the region. Expedia has commented on the report by saying that it is committed to clearly labeling accommodations in disputed territories around the world and will continue to make sure that it is fully transparent in this matter. Booking.com rejected the ridiculous claim by Amnesty that it is complicit in the expansion of “illegal settlement activities” and simply said that its geolocating markers provide sufficient information to its clients to make up their own minds. Airbnb and TripAdvisor have yet to comment.
Israeli ministers, including the minister in charge of tourism have condemned Amnesty’s report as “anti-Semitic” and accused it of denying the simple truth that Judea and Samaria are the historical homeland of the Jewish people. They promised to fight Amnesty’s report as part of fighting global anti-Semitism wherever it is found and whatever form it takes.