The NGO BDS Network targets Booking.com
On September 19, 2022, media reports (primarily AP) claimed that Booking.com would add a notice to its listings owned by Israelis in the West Bank, warning potential visitors that “they were traveling to a ‘disputed, conflict-affected or high-risk’ area that ‘may pose greater risks.’” Israeli media reported that the English version of the notice would include the word “occupied.” Some versions also indicated that similar language would be included on listings in other conflict zones. (There is no mention of this new policy from the company, and the source of the media report is unclear.)
This unconfirmed report follows an intense multi-year BDS campaign by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) targeting Booking.com and demanding the removal of all Jewish-owned listings in the West Bank (see below for details). A number of NGOs issued statements welcoming the reports, but also demanding that Booking.com adopt the entirety of the BDS agenda (see statements from Al-Haq, BDS National Committee, ELSC, and Adalah Justice Project) and falsely claiming that discriminatory boycotts were somehow required under international law.
The case of Booking.com echoes the case of AirBNB, which briefly bowed to NGO lobbying and threats, and in 2018, announced it was “removing listings” in “Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank.” Shortly afterwards, the company reversed this decision, thereby acknowledging that it was taken on the basis of unverified and misleading NGO claims.
NGO Campaign Targeting Booking.com (partial list)
- In December 2018, Al-Haq sent a letter to Booking.com accusing it of contributing to “continuation and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, upon which immediate action must be taken, in line with international law.”
- In January 2019, Amnesty International published a report titled “Destination: Occupation,” alleging that “the Israeli government has political and ideological reasons for developing a tourism industry in occupied East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank.” The report accused companies, including Booking.com, of contributing to “human rights violations.” This publication was part of a broader, antisemitic campaign by Amnesty.
Human Rights Watch
- HRW has devoted major resources in campaigns promoting BDS in the travel and tourism frameworks (including AirBNB and Booking.com) for a number of years.
- On November 20, 2018, HRW published a 65-page report, “Bed and Breakfast on Stolen Land: Tourist Rental Listings in West Bank Settlements” (in partnership with Kerem Navot), alleging that Booking.com “facilitat[e] Israel’s unlawful transfer of its citizens to the settlements.”
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and partners
- In September 2021, a coalition of NGOs including FIDH published a report purporting to “investigate and expose the financial relationships between businesses involved in the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and European Financial Institutions (FIs).” According to the report, “By marketing and profiting from settlement accommodations, which are established by grave violations of international humanitarian law, Booking.com (and Booking Holdings) is essentially profiting from war crimes and crimes against humanity, including apartheid, committed in the OPT.”
- Other pro-BDS NGOs involved in the campaign include Al-Haq, Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), Trocaire, ELSC, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), and The Rights Forum.
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
- AFSC posted a profile of Booking.com on its online investment screening tool, alleging that “the company contributes to the illegal settlement economy by driving tourism and providing jobs and income, financing continued settlement existence and expansion, in violation of international law. Second, the company is involved in discrimination against West Bank Palestinians since, unlike their Israeli neighbors or foreign tourists, they cannot access the properties listed in settlements.”
Jewish Voice for Peace
- In September 2018, JVP sent a letter to the CEO of Booking.com demanding that Booking.com remove language referring to Jerusalem as an “Israeli city” because “Labeling East Jerusalem as part of Israel, rather than occupied territory, painfully erases Palestinian history and connection to this city.”
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
- In April 2019, USCPR published a report titled “Ethical Travel to Palestine & Challenging Apartheid Tourism” calling to “Challenge Corporate Complicity” of Booking.com.
- On September 21, 2022, USCPR encouraged individuals to join Adalah Justice Project’s petition to tell Booking.com “to stop facilitating tourism on stolen Palestinian land.”
- See above for the November 2018 report co-authored with HRW.
- In February 2017, Electronic Intifada published an article titled ”How Booking.com is aiding Israel’s war crimes.”
- Who Profits posted a profile of Booking.com, listing its owners, investors, contact information, and accusing Booking.com of “fail[ing] to inform consumers of the settlements’ illegal status under international law and their location on occupied land.”
- Booking.com was also featured in the NGO’s October 2017 report and accompanying political campaign, “Touring Israeli Settlements Business and Pleasure for the Economy of Occupation.”