A group of Jewish Americans sued Airbnb Inc on Wednesday in U.S. federal court for religious discrimination over its decision last week to remove listings of homes in Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria in Israel.
The 18 plaintiffs, including Israeli-American families and individuals who own or wish to rent affected homes, accused Airbnb of redlining Jewish-owned properties while letting Muslims and Christians rent their homes.
The complaint was filed in federal court in Delaware, where Airbnb is incorporated, and which the plaintiffs said has jurisdiction over the San Francisco-based company’s violation of U.S. laws against housing discrimination.
“Airbnb has made a religion and nationality-based decision about who can list,” Robert Tolchin, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an interview. “It decided in the United States, ‘We will not list for Jews in the West Bank.’ It should be equal access for all.”
A separate lawsuit challenging Airbnb’s policy was filed in a Jerusalem court on Nov. 22.
The Delaware case differed by claiming that “Airbnb is violating Americans’ rights, and this can’t be argued in an Israeli court under Israeli law,” Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, another lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an interview.
“A company that has no qualms about renting apartments in dictatorships around the world and in places that have no relationship with human rights is singling out Israel. This can only be a result of anti-Semitism or surrendering to terrorism – or both,” the Judea and Samaria Council said last week.
The city council of Beverly Hills in California voted unanimously last week to withdraw apartment listings for the city from Airbnb in response.
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