The Author


Am I, along with many of my fellow Jews. being overly-sensitive about Verizon and Airbnb’s corporate policies towards Judea and Samaria?

Last month, I heard from a friend at the One Israel Fund that on a trip to Israel, he was charged for calls from two countries.  It seems that Verizon considers Judea and Samaria to be part of the independent nation of Palestine and Verizon’s international calling plan charges a flat rate per country.

When my friend protested vehemently that there was no such country as Palestine, the Verizon rep had to speak to his manager who reluctantly agreed to cancel the ‘extra country’ charge.

Now, Airbnb has one-upped Verizon by refusing to even list properties in these ‘disputed territories’.  I guess Airbnb has miraculously determined the final outcome of the putative peace process.

Verizon and Airbnb may be corporate behemoths but in the areas of history, legality and message consistency, they are obviously in need of some remedial education.

First, they should know that due to their historical connection to the Jewish people, Judea and Samaria were meant to be part of Israel according to the United Nations’ original partition plan. Jordan illegally seized those territories along with western Jerusalem in the 1948 War of Independence.

Second, Israel is now in possession of Judea and Samaria as a direct result of a defensive war against their Arab neighbours in 1967.

Third, Israel is under no legal or moral compulsion to surrender these territories to the mythical nation of Palestine, and most certainly not in an environment where Palestinians show no interest in living peaceably alongside Israelis. Quite frankly, given the precedent of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, Israel would have to be suicidal to surrender any sizable tract of land to the Palestinians without an ironclad assurance of non-aggression (anyone care to bet on the odds of that coming to pass?).

Fourth, Verizon and Airbnb have no business passing judgment on the Israel/Palestine issue, especially when they seem unconcerned about Turkey’s takeover of parts of Cyprus, or China’s occupation and/or attempted subjugation of Nepal and Taiwan or Russia’s takeover of Crimea or Iran’s virtual annexation of Lebanon and Syria or India and Pakistan’s conflicting claims to Kashmir or Britain’s occupation of Gibraltar.

Am I (along with many of my fellow Jews) being overly-sensitive about Verizon and Airbnb’s corporate policies towards Judea and Samaria given the relatively miniscule number of people these policies affect? The simple answer is : no, I don’t think so.  What Verizon and Airbnb are doing matters because no one anti-Israel or anti-Jewish act or event or pronouncement can be studied in isolation.  Swastikas painted on synagogue doors, physical attacks on kippah-wearing youngsters, the Democratic Party (and its voters) having no problems nominating candidates with a history of unapologetic anti-Semitism, the United Nations passing motion after motion condemning Israel, the terrorist attacks on Israel that aren’t even worthy of mention in most media, the wholesale acceptance of the Palestinians-as-victims narrative in ‘progressive’ circles, adoring crowds cheering Lewis Farrakhan describing Jews as “termites,” the slaughter of 11 Jews at prayer in Pittsburgh…

It is this continuum of both minor and major attacks on the Jewish community that wear so heavily on the Jewish psyche.

Just Another Brick in the Anti-Semitic Wall

Twice in the past six weeks, I’ve had clients say to me “You Jew’” after I told them we were increasing our prices by a tiny amount.  Not once in the previous 35 years of my business life did I hear that kind of slur.  Just coincidence? Nothing to worry about?  I would like to believe that, but history suggests otherwise.  That two relatively mature and sophisticated people would feel free to spit out such anti-Semitic venom tells me that some ancient prejudices are no longer to be found solely at the fringes of society but are making their way into the mainstream.

Verizon’s and Airbnb’s ill-informed and politically-correct (according to contemporary standards) actions contribute to this anti-Jewish malaise.  Just another brick in the anti-Semitic wall, so to speak.

These are challenging times for Jews and now, more than ever, we must not be afraid to identify and condemn blatant double-standards and anti-Jewish attitudes.  We may be fighting an uphill struggle, but if we aren’t willing to take on the fight, who will?

Article by Henry Roth

Henry Roth was born in Haifa and immigrated to Canada in the early 1950s. The son of Romanian Holocaust survivors, he has been married to Brenda for 43 years, is the father of two sons, Marc and David, the happy grandfather of Nicolas and a proud and loud Zionist.