Airbnb removes Chicago listing that would not tolerate Zionism


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Airbnb removed a Chicago-area listing after a prospective renter posted its prohibition on expressions of “zionism.”

“This apartment strives to be a safe space – no sexism, homophobia, zionism, racism, classism, transphobia, xenophobia, fatphobia, or other hatred and prejudice is tolerated,” said the listing that appeared earlier this month advertising a bedroom in a “massive loft” located “at the heart of Wrigley and Boystown.”

“Guests who make the space unsafe or exhibit problematic behavior WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE WITHOUT A REFUND,” it said.

Nick Papas, a spokesman for the popular tourism rental website, told JTA on Monday that the listing was suspended and Airbnb will investigate.

“Airbnb hosts may not decline a guest based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status,” Papas said.

The listing also said unaccompanied straight men “should look elsewhere.”

The Airbnb host is named Sarah. With her listing removed, she could not be reached for comment.

Suzanne Vega, a New Yorker who planned a visit to see friends in Chicago, first posted the listing on Facebook and noted her concerns. An acquaintance, Lea Speyer, reposted it on Twitter.

Vega, 27, of Brooklyn, told JTA that she was searching the site for “progressive” spaces because she is LGBTQ.

“I needed an environment that was going to be safe to me all around,” she said.

Vega believes in engaging with those with political differences, but not those who would negate the rights of LGBTQ people.

“I can’t get along with ultra-right people,” she said.

The listing unsettled her, Vega said, because the ban on expressions of “zionism” and the penalty for doing so would inhibit her talking about her Judaism and her recent visit to Israel.

“What does it entail? I can’t say anything about Israel, I can’t say anything about being Jewish?” she said.

Additionally, Vega noted, the listing did not prohibit exhibitions of anti-Semitism.

“It bothered me so heavily I posted about it,” she said. “I felt unsafe.”

Vega said she was on the alert heading into her Chicago vacation because of the controversy last year when the Chicago Dyke March banned marchers showing Jewish pride by bearing Stars of David.

“I’m very progressive and somewhat left-wing for sure,” she said. “The extreme left are incapable of having a dialogue.”

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