Texas is adding home sharing firm Airbnb to a short list of companies that cannot receive state investments because it removes Israeli-owned rentals in the controversial West Bank.
Airbnb is the only American-based company on Texas’ anti-Israel boycott list, which also includes a Norwegian financial services group, a British wholesale co-op and a Norwegian insurance company.
Texas is making it “very clear that our state stands with Israel and its people against those wishing to undermine Israel’s economy and the wellbeing of its people,” said a statement from Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s office.
The West Bank is central to a long-running dispute between Israelis and Palestinians. In November, Airbnb said it would remove about 200 listing in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It cited a variety of factors for its decision, including whether listings in an occupied territory had a direct connection to a larger dispute in a region.
“There are many strong views as it relates to lands that have been the subject of historic and intense disputes between Israelis and Palestinians,” Airbnb said in a blog post explaining its decision. “… Our hope is that someday sooner rather than later, a framework is put in place where the entire global community is aligned so there will be a resolution to this historic conflict and a clear path forward for everybody to follow. As of today, this is an aspirational hope.”
Texas’ move was praised by Christians United For Israel, the public policy arm of the nation’s largest pro-Israel organization. It likened the so-called Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement, which seeks to stop companies from doing business with Israel, to “terrorists” and “hostile nations.”
“They will fail, because no matter how much they lie about and demonize the Jewish state, we at CUFI will ensure that conscientious people have the opportunity to learn the truth about the vibrant and democratic nation of Israel,” CUFI founder John Hagee said in a statement.
Around 26 states, including Texas, have laws on the books that prevent institutions from doing financial harm to Israel if they want support from state governments, citing a desire to avoid using to tax dollars to back stances hostile to a U.S. ally.
Democratic critics of laws cracking down on the BDS movement are increasingly skeptical of Israel’s policies and see legislative actions as an infringement on free speech. In January, Florida added Airbnb to a list of companies that it defines as boycotting Israel. The same month, a bill to crack down on the BDS movement was defeated by Democrats in the Senate.
The backlash over foreign actions comes at a time when the company is reportedly preparing for an IPO some time in 2019.