Councilmembers Horvath and Meister Withdraw Their Condemnation of Airbnb Over Barring Palestinian Settlement Rentals

A woman protesting Airbnb’s rentals in Israeli settlements in Palestine.

Faced with objections from area Jewish-American and Palestinian-American residents, City Council members Lindsey Horvath and Lauren Meister tonight backed off from their proposal that the City of West Hollywood condemn Airbnb for its restriction on rentals in Israeli settlements in Palestine’s West Bank.

Their proposal follows a city decision to postpone the Dec. 12 screening of a documentary about the formation of Israel in 1948 and its impact on the Palestinian community. That documentary, “1948: Creation and Catastrophe,” was to have been screened as part of the city’s Human Rights Speakers Series. It was to have been followed by a panel discussion including Andy Trimlett and Ahlam Muhtaseb, co-producers and co-directors of the documentary.

Estee Chandler of the Jewish Voice for Peace said the proposal was “completely contrary to the history of West Hollywood. Some members of the West Hollywood City Council have made it clear that they are supportive of human rights except when it involves Palestinians.” The Jewish Voice for Peace advocates for ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Another speaker, Abdul Barakut, urged the City Council not to give in to what he described as “Zionist protocol. You can be anti-Zionist without being anti-Israel,” he said. “It’s like being anti-Republican without being anti-American.”

After the comments from those and other speakers, Horvath said that she and Meister had agreed to remove the proposal from the Council’s consent agenda. She also said that Airbnb had reached out about the matter and clarified its position.

Horvath said that Airbnb made clear that it opposed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has called for boycotting and divesting from investments in companies doing business with Israel and particularly in Israelis settlements in Palestine. While that movement has been opposed by some Jewish leaders in the United States, it has gained significant support among college student organizations and other progressive groups.

“Their further clarification requires consideration,” Horvath said in explaining the decision to remove the proposal.

City Manager Paul Arevalo also said tonight that the “1948” documentary would be screened at a future date and he said it was not postponed at the City Council’s request. However Horvath, at a Dec. 3 City Council meeting, did question the city’s decision to screen the film. When “we give license to people who advocate for eliminating Israel, we are creating an environment where people feel unsafe,” she said. The proposed screening was criticized by Rabbi Denise Eger of Congregation Kol Ami, who described one of the co-producers as anti-Semitic.

In an earlier memo to the City Council, Horvath and Meister had criticized Airbnb for focusing on Israel when there are other countries with controversial settlements such as those in Tibet and Northern Cyprus. “Many have called Airbnb hypocritical as these settlements experience just as much, if not more, violence than the West Bank,” said the memo. “The West Bank is the first and only region from which Airbnb has so far withdrawn under a revised set of guidelines, although it previously removed listings in Crimea due to international sanctions.”

The international community has largely agreed that the existence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank is in violation of international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention includes statements such as “the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The United Nations Security Council has called on Israel to stop transferring its people into Palestinian territory and the International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel is in breach of international law by establishing settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

Airbnb has struggled for years with its decision to allow Israelis living in settlements in Palestine to rent out rooms in their homes. The Guardian reported in November that Human Rights Watch, the humanitarian organizations, welcomed its decision to stop rentals in those settlements.

“Arvind Ganesan, the business and human rights director at the organisation, said Airbnb’s decision was ‘an important recognition that such listings can’t square with its human rights responsibilities. Human Rights Watch welcomed the move. Arvind Ganesan, the business and human rights director at the organisation, said Airbnb’s decision was “an important recognition that such listings can’t square with its human rights responsibilities .. For two years, Human Rights Watch has spoken with Airbnb about their brokering of rentals in West Bank settlements that are illegal under international humanitarian law and for which Palestinian ID holders are effectively barred from entering.”

  1. WOW the filthy rich city of WeHo has been putting the Air B&B front & center for a couple years as it pertains to it’s existence to operate in WeHo.

    Now that still disputed local issue is being used by our local City Council Members as a focus to the rights, safety, security and financial stability of ISREAL and thus the Entire Middle East??

    With her knowledge, Ms. Meister may put herself up for Jared Kushners position if he is indicted. They seem to have the same level of international issues, particularly, The State of ISREAL. Oi-vay.
    Stay in your Lane on local streets and not jump into the fast lane of the International Superhighway of World Diplomacy, especially with ISREAL. (I’m Jewish, and I don’t think ISREAL needs another nobody jumping into a very complex situation from half way around the world).

  2. I am sure blueeyedboy finds it distressing that his prejudices are not accepted without question and, Cy Husain consistently debunks them with verifiable credible sources. YES Karl Marx was a great man and FYI he was Jewish, the point being that anti-Marxist sentiment is deeply rooted in antisemitism!

    The Palestinians are the indigenous people of the region descend from the Philistine, even the bible points this out. Opposing the oppression and genocide of the Palestinians is not in any way antisemitic, note the large number of Progressive Jews in support of the Palestinians? Most Zionists are conservative Christian racists who support Israel out their hatred of Muslims.

      1. Did you even bother to READ any of the sources referenced? The website intellectualtakeout is a right-wing libertarian outlet, if you bother to go their homepage you will not only find a great deal of hostility toward non-whites and non-christians but, in their “family” section they are quite homophobic. The author (Richard Ebeling) of the article you cited is quite hostile to LGBT rights, do the google search for yourself! The ONLY source cited was that of conservative christian philosopher Paul Johnson who pushes long debunked conspiracy theories. Put simply, your are dealing with tabloid credibility pushed by Rupert Murdoch.

        The next link you provided that failed to cite any sources is simply a blog that anyone can post an article on. The whole argument made is based on stereotypes and contempt for the poor. The entire site is filled with antisemitic global conspiracy nonsense.

        Thanks for NOT attributing Nobel or Pulitzer Prizes to these less than credible sources as you have done in the past!

        Now I do have to admit that you did cite a source (Psychology Today) with some real credibility but, the article is NOT supporting YOUR position. First off it was 2 NOT 3 of Marx’s daughters who committed suicide and it was well after their father’s death. The poverty and oppression of the Marx family had a great deal to do with being singled out do to antisemitism as well as politics. Both Laura Marx and her husband Paul Lafargue committed suicide together in 1911 as a political statement. Vladimir Lenin (another GREAT Man I admire) spoke at their funeral in Paris but, did feel that there are better ways to make a serious political statement other than suicide.
        Reference cited: Wheen, Francis (1999). Karl Marx: A Life. London: WW Norton & Company. p. 386.
        If you examine the work of Susan K Perry Ph.D. and the book Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution by Mary Gabriel it’s anything but a source to cite when refuting Marxism, more like that’s a source useful to me! 🙂

        1. Yes, Cy, of course I read the sources I cited, and they support other sources that give the same information. I have no higher regard for your oft used sources than you do for mine. At one time I read up on the sources you listed on a couple of your diatribes, and found them seriously …… twisted! There is no place to begin for us to find common ground, and I’m responding here, not to communicate with you, but to let any reader know that I do not accept your criticisms.

          Compared with almost any country, America is freer; gives its people more opportunities to economically advance; is less racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic; has a friendlier population; has less corruption; and has far more medical innovation. Yet you seem to have no appreciation for any of that and, in fact, appear to hold the enemies of what we have built here in unusually high regard, and suggest that they got it right.

          I really don’t know what to do with that. It’s sad.

  3. I was pleased to see that the city manager announced that the 1948 forum will indeed be part of a future screening to be sponsored by West Hollywood, and I look forward to be part of that discussion, as originally planned.

    Sandy Tolan
    USC Annenberg
    Author, The Lemon Tree

  4. I find this discussion, and the one on “1948”, really distressing, and I don’t even know where to begin to respond to it and to express my extreme disapproval. I will simply say that I support Israel 100% from those who seek nothing less than Israel’s total destruction, and who manage to convince people like those who are commenting here that they are the victims. Israel has done nothing more than defend themselves, yet they are being presented as the aggressors. They are not!

    Cy Husain thinks Karl Marx was a great man, so factor that in when you consider his remarks.

    No, I am not Jewish.

  5. The folks that spoke on this issue last evening were articulate, collected and correct with their facts. Hopefully these same folks will be on hand to encourage a thoughtful discussion when the public is permitted to view 1948. These speakers gracefully let Council Members Horvath and Meister off a sharp hook.

  6. I thought that Council members Horvath and Meister acted with grace and courage in tabling this motion once they discovered it was a distraction. By avoiding another divisive issue they put the needs of the City first.

    1. Of course it’s a “distraction”, hatred of the Muslims and Arabs is no different than any other kind of bigotry. Think right-wing reactionary free market fundamentalists can win on their agenda of taxes for the poor not the rich, no minimum wage or benefits for working people but super extravagant compensation for board members and CEOs with golden parachutes if they fail miserably, endless unnecessary wars they profit from and never fight but send working people to their death or disability under the premise that it’s their duty to their country (notice the rich and powerful will ONLY tell us it’s our country when they want us to die or kill for them), do the best they can to replace democracy with the corporate board room, healthcare limited to the rich with natural selection for the rest of us and, when the best possible science tells us their policies have failed then try to sell everyone on the idea it’s all a hoax? If any reactionary politician were open to honestly running on that agenda as opposed to scapegoating vulnerable minority groups, they would lose by a landslide to the first available Socialist Candidate!

  7. This was all planned as a publicity stunt. They both knew they were going to change their minds. City Council member should clean up their own back yard first. You are City Council Members. You are not U. S. Senators. Strat being concerned about the issues of the City and our Residents. Stop using our City time and Resources for issues which do not directly affect our Residents.

    1. Can you prove that? You make accusations consistently, but you can’t back them up. I, for one, am tired of it. Either prove it or be quiet.

      1. You are stuck with me. I will never be quite. I will always have the courage to speak truth to power and not do in anonymously. I hope you come to my town meeting so you can trash me in person. I’m looking forward to putting a face to a name. I have a general idea of what you look like already.

    2. Looks like the City Council (Lindsey Horvath and Lauren Meister) was expecting to surf a wave of Zionist Islamophobia support, only to crash on a “Blue Wave” of opposition to Israeli Zionist racist apartheid! I hope they learned what Veteran Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy has pointed out that support for the BDS movement Is Not Anti-Semitic but, support for what Noam Chomsky says are Israel’s Actions in Palestine that are “Much Worse Than Apartheid” in South Africa in the 20th century are now unacceptable to the vast majority of well Educated Left leaning Jews. Looks like the Palestinian-led, Nobel Peace Prize nominated Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights is gaining considerable support in the cultural mainstream both nationally and internationally in the last few years.

      Even here locally we see Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman coming out in opposition to a new Israeli Nation-state Law as being “Racist” and a “Mistake!” To think I was hoping our City Council would do a better job in coming out in opposition to the ongoing racist mistakes of the United States. Let’s not forget Natalie Portman’s courageous Rejection of the Israeli Genesis Prize in Light of its War Crimes in Gaza, this was a serious 7 figure amount of money. This when City Council members are ready to sellout their positions over the possibility of 4 and 5 figure amounts of money!

      Next are we going to see a barrage of vicious ad hominem attacks against Eric Jon Schmidt for his refusal to accept ANY money from those willing to throw a vulnerable minority group under the bus for political gain, it could be that I’m just jealous that he’s getting all the attention usually reserved for me? Last I would like to thank the WEHOville and Henry Scott for their journalist integrity when it came to this article! “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” ✌🏾

      1. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, what does that mean exactly? Which sea? Which river? I looked on a map. I am guessing you were alluding to Israel not being there and Palestine be in its place. Is that correct?

        1. To clarify, the nation state of “Israel” should have never been set up in the first place by the western imperialist powers to displace the Indigenous Palestinians and, destabilize the rest of the Middle East. The current situation we are facing with war and terrorism is as a consequence of these actions.

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