Airbnb is doing the Democrats' dirty work
© Getty Images

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 TlaibEthics Committee orders Tlaib to refund campaign ,800 for salary payments HuffPost reporter discusses progressives' successful showing on Tuesday Minneapolis Star Tribune endorses Ilhan Omar's primary challenger MORE (Mich.), Ilhan OmarIlhan Omar'This already exists': Democrats seize on potential Trump executive order on preexisting conditions Minneapolis Star Tribune endorses Ilhan Omar's primary challenger Tlaib wins Michigan Democratic primary MORE (Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Ethics Committee orders Tlaib to refund campaign ,800 for salary payments Hispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants MORE (N.Y.), while the party’s old guard leadership – folks like Sen. Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi, Schumer slam Trump executive orders, call for GOP to come back to negotiating table Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief Postal Service says it lost .2 billion over three-month period MORE (N.Y.), Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Schumer slam Trump executive orders, call for GOP to come back to negotiating table Trump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief MORE (Calif.), Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinPPP application window closes after coronavirus talks deadlock  Congress eyes tighter restrictions on next round of small business help Senate passes extension of application deadline for PPP small-business loans MORE (Md.), and Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBy questioning Barr, Democrats unmasked their policy of betrayal Chris Wallace: Barr hearing 'an embarrassment' for Democrats: 'Just wanted to excoriate him' Apple posts blowout third quarter 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

When Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPPP application window closes after coronavirus talks deadlock  The Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election US intelligence says Russia seeking to 'denigrate' Biden 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 ClintonBlumenthal calls for declassification of materials detailing Russian threat to US elections Hillary Clinton roasts NYT's Maureen Dowd over column Hillary Clinton touts student suspended over crowded hallway photo: 'John Lewis would be proud' MORE, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGraham says he appreciates Trump orders, but 'would much prefer a congressional agreement' 'This already exists': Democrats seize on potential Trump executive order on preexisting conditions Biden's immigration plan has serious problems 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.