Airbnb is doing the Democrats' dirty work
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The Democrats have a BDS problem. The explicitly anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against the world’s only Jewish state is gaining traction among self-described progressives such as congressional newcomers Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibTlaib says she won't visit Israel after being treated like 'a criminal' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Israel approves Tlaib request to visit grandmother in West Bank MORE (Mich.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarTlaib says she won't visit Israel after being treated like 'a criminal' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Israel approves Tlaib request to visit grandmother in West Bank MORE (Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez brushes off Trump tweet claiming she is 'fuming' over Tlaib, Omar attention Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE (N.Y.), while the party’s old guard leadership – folks like Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerColorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump ahead of New Hampshire speech: Lewandowski would be 'fantastic' senator Hickenlooper ends presidential bid MORE (N.Y.), Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move Pelosi: Israel's Omar-Tlaib decision 'a sign of weakness' MORE (Calif.), Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinAmerica is in desperate need of infrastructure investment: Senate highway bill a step in the right direction Financial aid fraud is wrong — but overcorrection could hurt more students Democrats denounce Trump's attack on Cummings: 'These are not the words of a patriot' MORE (Md.), and Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death French officials call for investigation of Epstein 'links with France' National Archives: Trump, Bush can review Democrats' request for Kavanaugh records MORE (N.Y.) – understanding that the party appearing overtly anti-Semitic would alienate some of their most generous donors, prefer to maintain their party’s pro-Israel lip-service. It’s getting harder by the hour.

Recent events have brought the Democrats’ panic into full public view. The centerpiece of the Senate Republicans’ first bill of the new Congress is American support for Israel. Anti-BDS legislation is among its key provisions.  The Democrats blocked it from coming to a vote.

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When Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move Top Foreign Affairs Republican: 'It would benefit all of us' for Omar, Tlaib to visit Israel MORE (R-Fla.) tweeted that his Democratic colleagues were trying to conceal the depths of anti-Israel sentiment within their caucus, Democrats and their allies in the press exploded in righteous indignation, mischaracterizing the anti-BDS provision as a threat to free speech. In reality, it’s a standard provision simply requiring federal contractors to avoid discriminating on the basis of race or gender.

Democratic leadership desperately needs to reconcile their pro-Israel donors with some of their anti-Semitic progressive voters. Their solution is already in plain sight.

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump seeks to project confidence on economy at New Hampshire rally MORE, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaForget conventional wisdom — Bernie Sanders is electable 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care Obama shares summer reading list MORE, and some of their key aides have spent years laying the groundwork to claim pro-Israel credentials while supporting BDS “limited” to “Israeli occupied territories.” It all begins with the progressive narrative of a fictional Palestinian nation of “indigenous” “brown” people fighting for liberation from a brutal “white” “European” colonialist oppressor regime.  

From there, it proceeds through a “peace process” that undermines peace and security for Israel and stability and prosperity for the very people they claim to champion. This false narrative justified Obama’s open call for the removal of Jews from Judea, along with the left’s constant clamor for a “two-state solution” that everyone knows would only increase anarchy and terror in an already volatile region.

Having unexpectedly lost the White House, Democratic operatives laboring far from Washington took the lead. In November 2018, vacation rental pioneer Airbnb announced a shocking policy.  Though willing to list properties in the many war zones, totalitarian states, and disputed and occupied territories around the world, Airbnb would refuse service to one group alone: Jewish homeowners in Judea and Samaria. Non-Jewish homeowners in those same disputed territories could continue to use their service. Even the leftist Haaretz dubbed the policy “a big victory” for BDS.

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With its initial public offering pending, Airbnb astoundingly chose to wade into a politically charged arena and run afoul of numerous state laws while alienating not only Jews but tens of millions of American Christian as well. What was Airbnb thinking?

The answer lies with the identity and allegiance of executives directly responsible for gulling the company into the immoral and self-destructive policy.  Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of Global Policy and Communications, is a Clinton consigliere. Backing him up as Airbnb’s director of Global Policy is Margaret Richardson – chief of staff at Obama’s Justice Department and one of the most frequent visitors to the Obama White House.

Exploiting the progressive and naïve bosses at Airbnb, Lehane and Richardson risked the interests of the company and its investors to promote the BDS agenda.

Adding insult to injury, when Airbnb needed to send an executive to meet with the Israeli government, the company dispatched spinmaster Lehane – the apparent reported architect of its  boycott – to placate Israel, at least for long enough to stave off damage to Airbnb’s impending IPO.  

Israel met Lehane in good faith. Lehane responded with a series of promises of which he has kept none.

Meanwhile, the usual Democrat shills – a rogues’ gallery of leftist Jewish front groups – were mobilized to manage the crisis: In a joint statement, J Street, T’ruah, Americans for Peace Now, Partners for a Progressive Israel, and the New Israel fund declared, “The assertion that Airbnb is driven by anti-Semitism is utterly unsupportable. ... Its delisting of rental properties will only occur in illegitimate West Bank settlements which are not part of Israel. (sic)”

Less than two months later, Cardin – a Jewish senator who had broken with Obama to oppose the Iran deal in 2015 but accepted J Street’s embrace in 2018 – was now complaining about Republican opposition to BDS.  Cardin’s complaint wasn’t entirely surprising considering that in the previous Congress, House Democrats had watered down proposed anti-BDS legislation to redefine Israel away from the definitions already embedded in commercial U.S. law; they sought to exclude lands east of the Green Line.

The writing is on the wall. The anti-Israel, pro-BDS forces control the Democrats.  Leftist Jewish groups such as the ADL will continue to divert attention to the politically irrelevant “alt-right” while they redefine anti-Semitism to accommodate and justify the left’s Israel-hatred - no unlike what is happening today in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor Party. The intellectual case for Jewishness as “white privilege” and Zionism as “white supremacy” will be pursued in leftist universities and the pages of the Forward. Democrats will howl that Republicans are being partisan for trying to protect Israel. The only remaining question is how long the Democrats’ progressive base will allow its leadership to pocket money from pro-Israel donors – or even let Jews in the room.  Current Democrat messaging about free speech and two states is a stall tactic. When the dust settles, from top to bottom, the Democrats will own the anti-Semitism of BDS. 

Bruce Abramson is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and a contributor to the news and public policy group Haym Solomon Center. Jeff Ballabon is CEO of B2 Strategic and a senior fellow at the Center for Statesmanship and Diplomacy.