Global Day of Action Urges Fidelity Investments to Break Ties with Airbnb Over Illegal Rentals of Israeli Settlements in the West Bank

June 03, 2016

Global Day of Action Urges Fidelity Investments to Demand End to Illegal Airbnb Rentals of Israeli Settlements in the West Bank

As Part of International Day of Action - SumOfUs, CODEPINK Women for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, US Palestinian Community Network and Others Decry West Bank Vacation Rentals as Palestinians Are Evicted from Their Homes

Coalition Targets Fidelity Investments, One of Airbnb's Biggest Owners, Urging Support to End Airbnb's Illegal Settlement Rentals in the West Bank

On Friday, June 3rd, a group of organizations known as the StolenHomes Coalition - SumOfUs, CODEPINK, American Muslims for Palestine, the US Palestinian Community Network, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Friends of Sabeel North America, Up Lift and Jewish Voice for Peace - are calling on one of Airbnb's biggest investors, Fidelity Investments, to support the delisting of rental properties in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, or risk being listed on the UN's new database of companies complicit in Israel's illegal settlement activity.

The coalition will hold an International Day of Action against Airbnb and rally outside Fidelity Investment headquarters in Boston to let Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson know that investing in Airbnb means Fidelity also profits off stolen Palestinian land. Rallies will also be held in front of Fidelity Investment location in Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Durham, Austin, Madison, and Paris. Members of the coalition will also deliver more than 150,000 signatures calling on Airbnb to delist properties in Israeli settlements in the West Bank to Airbnb's European headquarters in Dublin.

In BOSTON, MA - activists will rally at Fidelity Investment's local headquarters at 245 Summer St, Boston, Massachusetts 02210 at 12pm local time.

In DUBLIN, IRELAND - activists will deliver 150,000 signatures to Airbnb's European Headquarters at The Watermarque Building, Ringsend, D2 at 1pm local time.

In PARIS, FRANCE - activists will rally at Fidelity Investment's local headquarters at 29 rue de Berri, 75008 Paris at 10:30am local time.

In CHICAGO, IL - activists will rally at Fidelity Investment's local headquarters at 1 N LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60602 at 4:30pm local time

In WASHINGTON, DC - activists will rally at Fidelity Investment's local headquarters at 1900 K St NW, Washington, DC 20006 at 12:00pm local time

In SAN FRANCISCO, CA - activists will rally at Fidelity Investment's local headquarters at 8 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94104 at 4:00pm local time

In LOS ANGELES, CA - activists will rally at Fidelity Investment's local headquarters at 1200 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, California 90403 at 12:00pm local time.

In AUSTIN, TX - activists will rally at Fidelity Investment's local headquarters at 405 N. Lamar Boulevard, Austin, TX 78703 at 11:00am local time.

In DURHAM, NC - Nearly a dozen local residents including Fidelity investors will visit with "financial advisors" to urge Fidelity to cut its ties with Airbnb or else lose their business.

In MADISON, WI - activists will deliver the petition to Fidelity Investment's local headquarters at 8235 Greenway Blvd. in Middleton, WI at 10:00am local time.

According to international law and official US policy, Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal. The Israeli settlement enterprise is part of a decades-old military occupation that has confiscated 42% of Palestinian land in the West Bank for settlement construction, resulting in the loss of freedom of movement and other severe human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.

Earlier this year, the Associated Press reported that Airbnb had been allowing Israeli settlers in the West Bank to list their homes as "in Israel" with no mention that they are on occupied Palestinian land. In addition to misleading potential renters and aiding the Israeli government in laying permanent claim to all the land under its control, some of the proprietors have explicitly discriminated against people with Arab or Palestinian names , in direct violation of Airbnb's stated policies.

A Human Rights Watch report published in January stated that businesses should withdraw from the settlements to end their complicity in "an inherently unlawful and abusive system that violates the rights of Palestinians." That same month, Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, sent a letter to Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky warning that Airbnb is "effectively promoting the illegal Israeli colonization of occupied land."

Ahead of the deliveries, the members of the coalition sent a letter to key Airbnb investor, Fidelity Investments, informing the investment firm that Airbnb facilitates and benefits from the transfer of Israeli civilians into occupied territory, which is forbidden under international law. The action at Fidelity Investment Headquarters in Boston in particular will target CEO Abigail Johnson, the richest woman in Boston and the 6th richest woman in America. Her investment in Airbnb means that she too is profiting off stolen Palestinian land.

Last month, the UN announced that it would establish a database of all companies implicated in Israel's illegal settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Unless Airbnb immediately delists Israeli settlement rentals in the West Bank, they will be included in the first draft of the database to be released in June.

With Israel's brutal military occupation now entering its 50th year this weekend, the coalition chose this date to stand with Palestinians in their struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. This particular anniversary highlights that Israel has denied Palestinians their most basic human rights for too long and Airbnb investors must use their unique position to influence Airbnb to end its complicity.

Last week, the coalition launched a video called We Can't Live There. So Don't Go There, featuring Palestinians speaking directly to Airbnb's new marketing campaign Don't Go There. Live There, and urging potential travelers not to rent vacation homes in settlements, which are often not clearly identified as such in the website's listings. The coalition also launched a microsite parodying Airbnb rental listings and calling attention to the the fact that the vacation rental company continues to list Israeli settlements in the West Bank. More than 150,000 people have also signed onto a petition from SumOfUs demanding Airbnb take immediate action to delist Israeli settlement rental properties.