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 TlaibTrump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' George Conway: 'Trump is like a practical joke that got out of hand' Pelosi endorses Kennedy in Massachusetts Senate primary challenge MORE (Mich.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOmar urges Democrats to focus on nonvoters over 'disaffected Trump voters' Omar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Trump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' MORE (Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Will Democrats attempt to pack the Supreme Court again? On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline MORE (N.Y.), while the party’s old guard leadership – folks like Sen. Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats blast Trump after report reveals he avoided income taxes for 10 years: 'Disgusting' Biden refuses to say whether he would support expanding Supreme Court Schumer says Trump tweet shows court pick meant to kill off ObamaCare MORE (N.Y.), Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi preparing for House to decide presidency if neither Trump or Biden win electoral college: report Trump seeks boost from seniors with 0 drug discount coupons GOP senators confident Trump pick to be confirmed by November MORE (Calif.), Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinPelosi hopeful COVID-19 relief talks resume 'soon' Congress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out PPP application window closes after coronavirus talks deadlock  MORE (Md.), and Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Schumer: 'Nothing is off the table' if GOP moves forward with Ginsburg replacement Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence 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 RubioGOP online donor platform offering supporters 'Notorious A.C.B.' shirts Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power 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 ClintonAppeals court pauses 6-day extension for counting Wisconsin absentee ballots Trump, Pentagon collide over anti-diversity training push Sunday Shows: Trump's court pick dominates MORE, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump, Biden have one debate goal: Don't lose Is Congress reasserting itself? Trump-Biden debate: High risk vs. low expectations 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.