Ben & Jerry has announced that his popular ice cream will no longer be marketed in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The company argues that the conflict in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians is “inconsistent” with its values.
The ice cream company said it wanted to stay in Israel, but 140 settlements were classified as illegal by the international community and not considered “disputed territories” by Israel.
More than 600,000 Jews live in these territories annexed by Israel after the 1967 war.
The Vermont-based ice cream company was acquired by the British company Unilever in 2000, but as part of the acquisition, the ice cream company retained its independence to promote its social justice policies.
Alan Jobe, an executive from Unilever, recalled this fact after the demise of Ben & Jerry. He said the British Federation was “absolutely committed” to its trade in Israel, which would serve as a way out of action by the US company.
However, the Israeli prime minister told Unilever that there would be legal consequences. Naphtali Bennett warned that her government would take “drastic measures.”
Bennett’s reaction was not limited to the Israeli government. President Isaac Herzog called Ben & Jerry’s action a “new form of terrorism.”
On the other hand, Foreign Minister Yair Lapidet called it a “disgraceful surrender” to the boycott, diversion and sanctions (BDS) movement calling for Israel to boycott because of anti-Semitism and institutional boycott. For the treatment of occupied territories and Palestinians.
The move called Ben & Jerry’s position “a decisive step in ending the company’s involvement in the violation and occupation of Palestinian rights.”
Minister Lobid had already expected that he would ask the 35 U.S. states that have enacted laws against the BDS to use it against the ice cream company.
Tel Aviv journalist Barack Ravid wrote on the Axios website that the Israeli government is concerned that other international organizations will take similar steps to differentiate Israeli territory from settlements.
The word of the founders
In a comment in the New York Times, Ben & Co.’s founders Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield recalled that they were Jews, and since the company was founded in 1978, Israel has been one of the first international markets to enter.
“However, it is possible to support Israel, but we oppose some US government policies, not some of its policies. Therefore, we unequivocally support the company’s decision to close its business in the occupied territories,” they wrote.
Neither Cohen nor Greenfield have any current control over the company, but both see the move as one of the “boldest” decisions the company has made in 43 years of history.
They added that this was not an Israeli boycott and that Ben and Jerry did not support the BDS movement.
The ice cream company is popular in Israel and other parts of the world. Its sales exceeded US $ 1 billion (more than R $ 5 billion).
Or internal discussion
In the United States, it was born as an independent organization, and Ben & Jerry is seen by many as a liberal symbol of its campaigns in support of racial equality, the rights of the LGBTQIA + community and its campaign against climate change.
During the administration of Donald Trump in the United States, they even threw a taste against the policies of the then President.
Alex Kane, a journalist with the Jewish Currents news site in the United States, concluded that ice cream “has more repercussions on the American political debate than the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.”
“This shows that there is less of an intention among American liberals to be complicit in this aggression,” Kane wrote on Twitter.
But Ben & Jerry’s decision was not welcomed by some American companies. According to Reuters, the supermarket chain Morton Williams has said it will drastically reduce the amount of Ben & Jerry items on its shelves. Other companies such as Gourmet Glatt and Cedar Market have announced that they will immediately stop marketing the ice cream brand.
Politicians also criticized the decision of the ice cream company. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Ben & Jerry’s move was “an insult to America’s closest ally in the Middle East.”
Florida Gov. Ben & Jerry and Unilever have been asked to add Israel to their list of companies that will boycott, meaning the government will not be able to invest in these companies.
The case of Airbnb
In 2018, Airbnb announced that it would remove everyone within Jewish settlements in the West Bank from its housing list.
The move was hailed by Human Rights Watch as a human rights organization and was classified as a “major improvement”. However, several months later, Airbnb reversed that decision.
According to its website, the company is now conducting a “case-by-case” analysis of the title.
Ben Jamal, director of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, believes Airbnb’s backwardness is due to pressure from pro-Israel groups in Israel and the United States.
The question now is what will happen to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in a hot area like the Middle East.
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