19
October , 2018
Friday

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 On global day of action marking 50 years of Israeli Occupation of West Bank, groups tell Airbnb investor Fidelity Investments: “No more profit by occupying Palestinian land”
 
Chicago, IL: On Friday, June 3rd, a group of organizations known as the StolenHomes Coalition – SumOfUs, CODEPINK, American Muslims for Palestine, the US Palestinian Community Network, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Friends of Sabeel North America, Up Lift and Jewish Voice for Peace – are calling on one of Airbnb’s biggest investors, Fidelity Investments, to support the delisting of rental properties in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, or risk being listed on the UN’s new database of companies complicit in Israel’s illegal settlement activity.The coalition held an International Day of Action against Airbnb and rally outside Fidelity Investment offices in Chicago, as well as in front of the headquarters in Boston, to let Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson know that investing in Airbnb means Fidelity also profits off stolen Palestinian land. 40 participants entered the Fideilty office to deliver 150,000 petition signatures to Fidelity representatives, who committed to mailing them to Fidelity leadership.”We’ve always believed that Airbnb is a corporate criminal because of its complicity in supporting gentrification and displacement in the U.S.,” said Nesreen Hasan, a lead organizer with the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, “and now it’s also our target because of its support for Israeli apartheid.”“AirBnB has wreaked havoc across poor and working class Black communities in the US by being an agent for gentrification and aiding in the destruction of affordable housing” said Frank Chapman, field organizer with the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, “This kind of criminal corporate behavior is wrong in the US and it’s wrong in Palestine.”“Profiting from displacing people is just plain wrong, whether it happens on Occupied Palestinian land in Israeli settlements or in gentrifying Chicago neighborhoods,” said Scout Bratt, Coordinating Committee member of Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago, “That’s why we’re here today, and why we are proud to support the Palestinian-led movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions to achieve equality and human rights for Palestinians.”In addition to the Chicago protest, rallies were held in Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Durham, Austin, Madison, and Paris. Members of the coalition will also deliver more than 150,000 signatures to Airbnb’s European headquarters in Dublin, calling on Airbnb to delist properties in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Speakers included Nesreen Hasan and Muhammad Sankari of the US Palestinian Community Network, Frank Chapman of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Scout Bratt of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, and Sister Dorothy Pagosa of the 8th Day Center for Justice.

WHO: In addition to the Chicago branches of American Muslims for Palestine, CODEPINK, the US Palestinian Community Network, and Jewish Voice for Peace, the Chicago action was endorsed locally by 8th Day Center for Justice Staff, American Friends Service Committee, Anti-War Committee, Assata’s Daughters, Black Lives Matter-Chicago, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine, and Students for Justice in Palestine-Chicago Network

FURTHER BACKGROUND: Last week, the coalition launched a video calledWe Can’t Live There. So Don’t Go There, featuring Palestinians speaking directly to Airbnb’s new marketing campaign Don’t Go There. Live There, and urging potential travelers not to rent vacation homes in settlements, which are often not clearly identified as such in the website’s listings.  The coalition also launched a microsite parodying Airbnb rental listings and calling attention to the the fact that the vacation rental company continues to list Israeli settlements in the West Bank. More than 150,000 people have also signed onto a petition from SumOfUs demanding Airbnb take immediate action to delist Israeli settlement rental properties.

According to international law and official US policy, Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal. The Israeli settlement enterprise is part of a decades-old military occupation that has confiscated 42% of Palestinian land in the West Bank for settlement construction, resulting in the loss of freedom of movement and other severe human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.

Earlier this year, the Associated Press reported that Airbnb had been allowing Israeli settlers in the West Bank to list their homes as “in Israel” with no mention that they are on occupied Palestinian land. In addition to misleading potential renters and aiding the Israeli government in laying permanent claim to all the land under its control, some of the proprietors have explicitly discriminated against people with Arab or Palestinian names, in direct violation of Airbnb’s stated policies.

A Human Rights Watch report published in January stated that businesses should withdraw from the settlements to end their complicity in “an inherently unlawful and abusive system that violates the rights of Palestinians.” That same month, Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, sent a letter to Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky warning that Airbnb is “effectively promoting the illegal Israeli colonization of occupied land.”

Ahead of the deliveries, the members of the coalition sent a letter to key Airbnb investor, Fidelity Investments, informing the investment firm that Airbnb facilitates and benefits from the transfer of Israeli civilians into occupied territory, which is forbidden under international law. The action at Fidelity Investment Headquarters in Boston in particular will target CEO Abigail Johnson, the richest woman in Boston and the 6th richest woman in America. Her investment in Airbnb means that she too is profiting off stolen Palestinian land.

Last month, the UN announced that it would establish a database of all companies implicated in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Unless Airbnb immediately delists Israeli settlement rentals in the West Bank, they will be included in the first draft of the database to be released in June.

With Israel’s brutal military occupation now entering its 50th year this weekend, the coalition chose this date to stand with Palestinians in their struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. This particular anniversary highlights that Israel has denied Palestinians their most basic human rights for too long and Airbnb investors must use their unique position to influence Airbnb to end its complicity.

For more information, contact: Chicago: Muhammad Sankari, US Palestinian Community Network muhammad@aaan.org, 773-656-9928
National Contact: Brett Abrams | 516-841-1105 |brett@unbendablemedia.com

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