An Israeli man has attacked the “bigotry” of a London-based host on online accommodation platform Airbnb who refused to accept his booking because of his nationality.
Ben Kelmer had reserved a £60-a-night apartment near Marble Arch for a week-long stay next month – but had his request refused by its owner, who was designated a ‘superhost’ by the popular website.
In a courteous message to the prospective host, known only as ‘Mario’, Kelmer had asked for advice on traveling from London to Oxford. The Tel Aviv photographer then received a reply in which Mario accused him of “occupying someone’s land”.
It read: “This is how the world pictures you: aggressive settlers occupying land, destroying houses. In a few words: not respecting basic human rights.
“On that basis, I just cannot even consider hosting you, even if you pay me millions.”
Guests previously welcomed into Mario’s apartment had described him as a “very nice, kind and courteous host” and “friendly and easy-going” in feedback messages posted on his Airbnb profile.
In a strongly-worded post on the company’s Facebook page, Kelmer slammed the host’s conduct.
He said: “Individuals are not their governments! Are all Iranians extensions of their gay-hanging, woman-stoning regime?”
“We were served a healthy dose of Grade A, European bigotry and discrimination at its finest, poorly masked as so-called, socially-conscious political protest of the worst, most prejudiced kind, that is strictly reserved to Israelis. Well done on promoting dialogue and building bridges.”
Other users said the incident was “appalling”, while Airbnb pledged to “follow up…as soon as possible”.
The firm – recently valued at over £17 billion – has since banned the offending host from its platform. It said in a statement: “Discrimination has no place on Airbnb and we have removed this host from our community. We are proud to have one of the most open, trusted, diverse and transparent communities in the world and investigate any claims we receive.”
Airbnb has previously come under fire for advertising properties in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.