The Old Double Standard Argument by Phil Cohen

You’ve probably heard that some 200 Airbnb spaces that lie west of the Green Line can no longer be part of the wildly successful international lodging company. The good folks at Arbnb Central have excluded the West Bank.

This doesn’t seem like a particularly good idea. The action is a political statement that gives both sides another reason to become self-righteous. Apparently, Airbnb faced intense lobbying that forced the company to make this decision. The good folks at Airbnb capitulated to pressures from the BDS folks or some other types and now no one requiring lodging beyond the Green Line can avail themselves of and Airbnb space. Anyway, what’s 200 units, management thought, compared to whatever boycott-type threats were leveled against the company. Airbnb issued the following statement justifying their action: “Companies should not profit from lands where people have been displaced.” https://www.algemeiner.com/2018/11/20/northern-cyprus-western-sahara-tibet-the-occupied-territories-still-available-on-airbnb/?utm_content=news1&utm_medium=daily_email&utm_campaign=email&utm_source=internal/

So in a recent Algemeiner article cited above, Ben Cohen proffers an analysis of the type quite common when someone criticizes some aspect of the Israel-Palestine situation.

Essentially, his argument goes like this: Airbnb Central has not dismissed Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus, and everyone knows how terrible the Turks have been in Occupied Northern Cyprus. When Turkey invaded the northern part of the island, women were raped, people displaced, thousands of Turks moved from the mainland and settled there. Yet one can find Airbnb rentals available in Northern Cyprus. Also, Airbnbs can be rented in Tibet and Western Sahara, too, terrible places these, no doubt, with the deep taint of being occupied.

The nub of the current argument is: Why doesn’t Airbnb Central not cut out these terrible places (along with likely dozens of other countries) along with their dismissal of their franchisees on the West Bank? There are places that do awful things, yet Airbnb is available.

In this Algemeiner article, Ben Cohen is arguing, yeah, there are controversial things about the Israeli presence on the West Bank, but Israeli behavior is nothing compared to those awful Turks in Northern Cyrus. If they’re gonna ban rentals on the West Bank, they gotta do it over there, too, or else it’s just not fair. It’s a double standard, yo.

Thing is, it’s a terrible argument, some version of which is trotted out regularly whenever Israel is criticized for something, asserting that another country does more of or worse of than Israel. Israel’s bad, the argument implies, just not as bad as this other guy, and he’s getting away with it, so why can’t Israel? It’s the old double standard argument. If so and so can do it, why can’t Israel get away with it, too? It’s very eight years old and should be banned from the realm of Israel advocacy forthwith.

I’m not suggesting anything at all about the West Bank. I am suggesting that the argument carries with it the aroma of guilt. We’re guilty, but they’re a lot guiltier than Israel. Forget about Northern Cyprus and the Sahara. The ban on Airbnb on the West Bank is wrong and, simply, a bad business decision made due to what was likely unremitting political pressure.

Happy Thanksgiving
Phil

ps An article in today’s The Times of Israel quotes several members of the Israeli cabinet to the effect that Israel is close to taking strong action on Gaza by either assassinating Hamas leadership or invading Gaza and remaining in it until Hamas can be neutralized.

I have no idea if this is serious or is a carefully orchestrated warning to Hamas that Israel is prepared to take drastic action if the current ceasefire does not hold; or if it’s a public announcement prior to action that is certain to take place; or if it’s an announcement intended to gauge Israeli public opinion on the matter. One way or another, this announcement is an expression of the extraordinarily deep frustration in Israel as to how to resolve matters with Gaza.

One way or another, stay tuned.

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