(JTA) — An Israeli man said a British Airbnb host refused to rent an apartment to him because, the host said, Israelis don’t respect “basic human rights.”
Ben Kelmer, a Tel Aviv photographer, reserved a London apartment for a week in March through the online company, which has come under fire recently for listing properties in West Bank settlements. In some cases, the listings indicate that the properties are in Israel proper.
When Kelmer contacted the host with a question about public transportation, the host said he could not “even consider hosting you,” the U.K.’s Jewish News reported.
“This is how the world pictures you: aggressive settlers occupying land, destroying houses. In a few words: not respecting basic human rights,” the message said. “On that basis, I just cannot even consider hosting you, even if you pay me millions.”
Kelmer posted to Airbnb’s Facebook page: “We were served a healthy dose of Grade A, European bigotry and discrimination at its finest, poorly masked as so-called, socially-conscious political protest of the worst, most prejudiced kind, that is strictly reserved to Israelis.”
The company posted a reply saying it would investigate the matter. Airbnb later told JTA in a statement that it had removed the host.
“Discrimination has no place on Airbnb and we have removed this host from our community,” the statement said. “We are proud to have one of the most open, trusted, diverse and transparent communities in the world and investigate any claims we receive.”
Another Facebook user commented on Kelmer’s post, saying, “Appalling and sadly, happens too often.”
In December, a 13-year-old Israeli girl received a somewhat similar rebuff from a British citizen. When Shachar Rabinovitch of Zichron Yaakov emailed Marsha Levine, a former academic at the University of Cambridge, with questions for a research project on horses, Levine responded that she supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
“You might be a child, but if you are old enough to write to me, you are old enough to learn about Israeli history and how it has impacted on the lives of Palestinian people,” Levine wrote.