Due to the pro-Israel backlash about Ben & Jerry’s announced decision to stop selling ice cream in the West Bank/area east of the Green Line (EGL), the two founders penned an opinion piece in the liberal opinion paper, The New York Times on July 29, 2021. Here is a review.
Ben & Jerry comment: “We are the founders of Ben & Jerry’s. We are also proud Jews. It’s part of who we are and how we’ve identified ourselves for our whole lives. As our company began to expand internationally, Israel was one of our first overseas markets. We were then, and remain today, supporters of the State of Israel.“
FirstOneThrough review: Sounds reasonable. The duo is asserting that they are proud to be both Jewish and supporters of Israel so everything that follows must be read in that light. Meaning, this is what they want readers to believe are opinions of pro-Israel Jews.
B&J: “But it’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the U.S. government. As such, we unequivocally support the decision of the company to end business in the occupied territories, which a majority of the international community, including the United Nations, has deemed an illegal occupation.“
FOT: B&J say they oppose lots of U.S. policies BUT THEY STILL SELLS ICE CREAM IN THE US. Double-standards, anyone? Further, while it is true that “a majority of the international community” views Israeli Jews living in EGL as “Illegal,” it’s also a fact that most of the world considers homosexuality to be illegal. Are B&J really going to use international standards to decide what is a progressive value?
B&J: “While we no longer have any operational control of the company we founded in 1978, we’re proud of its action and believe it is on the right side of history. In our view, ending the sales of ice cream in the occupied territories is one of the most important decisions the company has made in its 43-year history. It was especially brave of the company. Even though it undoubtedly knew that the response would be swift and powerful, Ben & Jerry’s took the step to align its business and operations with its progressive values.“
FOT: Progressives say that climate change is the most important issue of our lifetimes and B&J proudly supports environmental issues. Yet these two men proclaimed that boycotting the West Bank because Israel has held off annexing it, in the hope of trading some of it for an enduring peace with local Arabs is “one of the most important decisions the company has made.” I guess B&J’s long list of progressive issues really aren’t that important.
B&J: “That we support the company’s decision is not a contradiction nor is it anti-Semitic. In fact, we believe this act can and should be seen as advancing the concepts of justice and human rights, core tenets of Judaism.“
FOT: In what orbit is objecting to Jews living and praying somewhere – let alone in their holy land – advancing human rights, and not anti-Semitic? B&J should re-read the bible to understand that the land of Israel is a core tenet of Judaism.
B&J: “Ben & Jerry’s is a company that advocates peace. It has long called on Congress to reduce the U.S. military budget. Ben & Jerry’s opposed the Persian Gulf war of 1991. But it wasn’t just talk. One of our very first social-mission initiatives, in 1988, was to introduce the Peace Pop. It was part of an effort to promote the idea of redirecting 1 percent of national defense budgets around the world to fund peace-promoting activities. We see the company’s recent action as part of a similar trajectory — not as anti-Israel, but as part of a long history of being pro-peace.“
FOT: The company opposed US wars but still sells ice cream throughout the United States, but uniquely decided to boycott the West Bank. This is not consistent at all. A parallel move would be to sell a new ice cream flavor – maybe with halavah and dates called “Abraham’s Twins” – and to donate part of the proceeds to schools and organizations that promote peace and coexistence.
B&J: “In its statement, the company drew a contrast between the democratic territory of Israel and the territories Israel occupies. The decision to halt sales outside Israel’s democratic borders is not a boycott of Israel. The Ben & Jerry’s statement did not endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.“
FOT: As the two surely know, the issued statement was not approved by its independent board, which did not include the statement about Israel. The last sentence was inserted by Unilever as the board actually wanted a boycott of all of Israel.
B&J: “The company’s stated decision to more fully align its operations with its values is not a rejection of Israel. It is a rejection of Israeli policy, which perpetuates an illegal occupation that is a barrier to peace and violates the basic human rights of the Palestinian people who live under the occupation. As Jewish supporters of the State of Israel, we fundamentally reject the notion that it is anti-Semitic to question the policies of the State of Israel.“
FOT: It is not “anti-Semitic to question the policies of the State of Israel,” but it is anti-Semitic to boycott the State of Israel in a complete double standard. The company does not boycott the US where it objects to many policies nor does it boycott China, Turkey, Morocco, India, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan or many other countries which have disputed territory. The “perpetuation” of the Arab-Israeli dispute is because the Palestinians have rejected Israeli offers time and again, not because Israel never made any offers to make peace.
B&J: “When we left the helm of the company, we signed a unique governance structure in the acquisition agreement with Unilever back in 2000. That structure is the magic behind both Ben & Jerry’s continued independence and its success. As part of the agreement, the company retained an independent board of directors with a responsibility to protect the company’s essential brand integrity and to pursue its social mission.“
FOT: Anti-Semitism is not a “social mission” and the boycott of Israel is illegal in many jurisdictions so the board acted outside of its authority. Will this board that advocates for “defunding the police” stop selling ice cream in cities that don’t slash police budgets? The board is in favor of expanding voting rights so will it get engaged in vote harvesting which is considered illegal in many states? Being in favor of peace means promoting peace through legal activities. The board is not advancing peace and taking illegal actions.
B&J: “We believe business is among the most powerful entities in society. We believe that companies have a responsibility to use their power and influence to advance the wider common good. Over the years, we’ve also come to believe that there is a spiritual aspect to business, just as there is to the lives of individuals. As you give, you receive. We hope that for Ben & Jerry’s, that is at the heart of the business. To us, that’s what this decision represents, and that is why we are proud that 43 years after starting an ice cream shop in a dilapidated gas station in Burlington, Vt., our names are still on the package.“
FOT: The piece ends as it began with innocuous statements that have nothing to do with the insidious actions taken by the board.
Progressive Jews like Ben & Jerry have endorsed Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism which calls for the destruction of Israel, to have a legal pathway to nuclear weapons, and wants that Islamic State to be able to freely ship such weaponry to Hamas in an un-blockaded Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. It should therefore not surprise anyone that the far-left would stop selling ice cream to Israelis in bomb shelters.
Ben & Jerry are boycotting the Old City of Jerusalem, the holiest location for Jews, while they preach that they are both proud Jews and supporters of Israel who are taking action to advance a core tenet of Judaism. The two may not only be guilty of double standards, but lack a basic understanding of Judaism, as they encourage the whole world to engage in the BDS movement to rid the holy city of Jewish presence once more.
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