DeSantis, Cabinet Sanction Airbnb After Company Closes Listings in Israel’s West Bank

Jan 29, 2019

Ron DeSantis
Credit Wilfredo Lee / AP

Florida’s Cabinet voted Tuesday to place Airbnb on the state’s Scrutinized Companies List. 

The move comes after Airbnb announced plans last November to remove roughly 200 listings in the West Bank, Israel because of safety concerns. 

The Company says it is not boycotting Israel, and will continue to operate 20,000 local listings. But Guy Gilady, who serves as the Deputy Consul of Israel for Florida, thinks Airbnb’s policy is shameful.            

“Actions speak louder than words as you always say, governor. And companies should not be allowed to put a smokescreen of PR moves in statements to obfuscate the public, disguise their bias and maintain a discriminatory policy,” Gilady said.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis proposed a resolution for Florida to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The resolution passed at the cabinet meeting.

“As a state, we must continue to demonstrate our broad and deep support of our ally and economic partner by implementing Pro-Israel polices. Today, we declare to the world that Florida stands united with Israel,” Patronis said.

Nikki Fried, the first Jewish woman on Florida’s cabinet, also spoke out at the meeting Tuesday.

"This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak to at the temple… visiting camps and being a member of the Jewish community, this resolution is near and dear to my heart," she said. 

Cabinet members also voted to keep the state’s pension plan from investing in Airbnb if it becomes publicly traded. Governor Desantis’ first International visit will be in Israel.

AirBnB released a statement following the cabinet's actions.

“We unequivocally reject and oppose the BDS movement and are disappointed by today’s vote. There are over 20,000 Airbnb hosts in Israel who open their doors and showcase the best of Israeli hospitality to guests from around the world, which boosts local families, businesses and communities. Our community of hosts in Israel has already welcomed more than 1 million guests and we will continue to invest in Israel.”

BDS, known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, is a campaign that promotes boycotts against Israek.    

The move comes after Airbnb announced plans last November to remove roughly 200 listings in the West Bank because of safety concerns.