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Airbnb Posting: No Sexism, Racism, or Zionism Allowed

The company has suspended the poster, but questions of anti-Semitism online linger

Elazar Abrahams
July 30, 2018

While searching for an Airbnb in Chicago, a potential renter saw a startling requirement in the fine print of a loft listing.

“This apartment strives to be a safe space—no sexism, homophobia, zionism, racism, transphobia, xenophobia, fatphobia, or other hatred and prejudice is tolerated,” the house rules read. “Guests who make this space unsafe or exhibit problematic behavior WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE WITHOUT A REFUND.”

One of those things is not like the others. Zionism is not a bias or a prejudice. Ironically, but not surprisingly, the renter was being discriminatory herself.

Tablet reached out to Airbnb and asked if the listing violated their code of conduct. Was “Zionism” discriminatory? An Airbnb representative delivered the following response: “We have suspended this listing and will investigate. Airbnb hosts may not decline a guest based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. Best, Nick.”

The reference to Zionism, however, might not have been the only one that led to the post’s suspension. The host also claimed that she would “only host straight, cis men that are staying with us as part of a couple or group with women/trans/gender-non-conforming people. Otherwise, straight cis men should please look elsewhere.” Needless to say, such a requirement falls squarely within the realm of discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

The offensive post is another one in a growing list of cases testing the ability and willingness of Internet giants to detect and regulate anti-Semitic content. Last week, Facebook came under criticism when the British Times learned that the social media giant had failed to remove Holocaust-denying posts despite learning of their existence, a failure that contributed to a massive drop in the company’s valuation.

Elazar Abrahams is a former intern at Tablet, and will attend Yeshiva University after a gap year at Netiv Aryeh in Jerusalem.