Ben & Jerry suffered an AOC moment - comment

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The Jerusalem Post 11 October, 2021 - 01:08pm

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Ben & Jerry’s co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are under fire after they failed to come up with a reason why they refuse to sell their ice cream in parts of Israel over political disagreements but do business in areas of the United States where they disagree with laws and policies. 

The progressive ice cream company has been vocal about social justice issues and announced earlier this year they will no longer be selling their desserts in "Occupied Palestinian Territory," the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Cohen and Greenfield, who no longer technically control the company but remain its public faces, appeared on "Axios on HBO" Sunday, where Axios' Alexi McCammond asked why they don’t just remove their ice cream from Israel altogether. 

"Well, I disagree with the U.S. policy, we couldn’t stop selling in the U.S.," Cohen said as he shrugged. 

"You guys are big proponents of voting rights," McCammond said. "Why do you still sell ice cream in Georgia? Texas, abortion bans. Why are you still selling there?"

Cohen appeared dumbfounded as he shrugged and said, "I don’t know," before chuckling. 

"It’s an interesting question. I don’t know what that would accomplish. We’re working on those issues, of voting rights," Cohen said. "I don’t know. I think you ask a really good question. And I think I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit."

McCammond, a left-leaning journalist known for being forced out as Teen Vogue's editor in chief over her old tweets, returned to pressing the men over the Texas abortion law.

"By that reasoning, we should not sell any ice cream anywhere. I’ve got issues with what’s being done in most every state and most every country," Cohen said. 

"One thing that's different is that what Israel is doing is considered illegal by international law. And so I think that's a consideration," Greenfield added.

Cohen also insisted pulling Ben & Jerry’s from Israel isn’t about money, but simply that the co-founders "don’t want our ice cream sold in the occupied territories." 

"It’s not a financial stance, it’s a policy stance," he said. 

The co-founders appeared to see things differently when asked if they’re bothered when critics accuse them of anti-Semitism. 

"It’s absurd … what, I’m anti-Jewish? I mean, I’m a Jew," Cohen said while laughing. "All my family is Jewish, my friends are Jewish."

Greenfield admitted he understands where critics are coming from. 

"It’s a very emotional issue for a lot of people and I totally understand it, it’s a very painful issue," Greenfield said. 

Cohen and Greenfield were quickly roasted on social media for the widely panned interview. 

Stand With Israel executive director Michael Dickenson called it a "car-crash interview" and said the non-answer proves "their Israel boycott is wrong-headed, unfair and yes – discriminatory." 

Townhall’s Leah Barkoukis called it a "total trainwreck of an interview," while The Spectator World called it "excruciating." 

Many others took to Twitter with thoughts on the interview:

"We have a long-standing partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region," the company said in a July press release. "We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year … Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement."

The Vermont Ice cream giant received backlash from Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, after announcing the company would no longer sell its frozen desserts in "Occupied Palestinian Territory."

The announcement drew a sharp rebuke from Bennett and Netanyahu, with the current Israeli prime minister saying Ben & Jerry's "decided to brand itself as anti-Israel ice cream."

"The boycott against Israel … reflects that they have totally lost their way," Bennett added. "The boycott doesn’t work and won’t work and we will fight it with all our might."

"Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy," Netanyahu tweeted on Monday, including emojis of the Israeli flag and a flexing bicep.

Ben & Jerry’s also made headlines last year when it threw its support behind the Defund the Police movement.

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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2021 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.

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Ben & Jerry's decision was not a boycott of Israel - founders

The Jerusalem Post 12 October, 2021 - 12:10pm

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Ben & Jerry's Co-Founder Cites 'Misinformation' for States Divesting From Company Over Israel

Newsweek 12 October, 2021 - 12:10pm

In July, Ben & Jerry's said it would no longer sell its ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, saying Israel's policies in the region are "inconsistent" with the company's values, though it planned to stay in Israel through a new arrangement.

The decision prompted swift backlash from pro-Israel advocates. Many states have since vowed to divest from Unilever over the decision.

When asked about this divestment in an Axios interview released to Twitter Sunday, Greenfield and Ben Cohen, the other co-founder, defended their decision not to sell in the occupied territories.

"I think Ben & Jerry's and Unilever are being characterized as boycotting Israel, which is not the case at all" Greenfield said. "It's not boycotting Israel in anyway."

Greenfield described the backlash as "painful." Both men pushed back on accusations they are anti-semitic for the policy, Cohen calling the allegations "absurd" while pointing out they are both Jewish.

"I'm anti-Jewish? I'm a Jew," Cohen said, adding that he supports a two-state solution and Israel's right to exist. He believes Israeli policy endorsing settlements "keep on making it harder and harder to actually have a two-state solution," he said.

When Axios reporter Alexi McCammond pushed back on why they still sell ice cream in Georgia and Texas—despite policies regarding voting rights and abortion they disagree with—the men appeared taken aback.

"By that reasoning, we should not sell any ice cream anywhere," Cohen said. "I've got issues with what's being done in most every state and most every country."

Greenfield added, "One thing that's different is that what Israel is doing is considered illegal by international law."

Several states have threatened to divest from the company since July. A committee from the Illinois Investment Policy Board warned them to retract the decision or face divestment.

"We'll meet in the next week or so just for this issue, asking the board to send a letter to Unilever giving it 90 days to confirm or deny" Ben & Jerry's stance, Andy Lappin, the committee's chairman, said. "In this case, it was a blatantly open statement made by the chairman of Ben & Jerry's and we need to determine if Unilever deems it appropriate to walk the statement back."

In September, Texas added Ben & Jerry's to a list of companies boycotting Israel, allowing a process to begin that could ultimately see the state sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly traded securities of the company."

Ben & Jerry's has long been known for its progressive activism, often sparking controversy from conservatives.

In September, the company announced a new flavor to support Missouri Representative Cori Bush's proposed People's Response Act, which was drafted to curb police violence against people with mental illnesses and health complications.

In January, the ice cream company called for the removal of President Donald Trump over the riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Newsweek reached out to Ben & Jerry's for comment Monday morning but had not heard back by publication. This story will be updated with any response.

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Interview with Ben and Jerry's founders over Israel boycott viewed 1M times

Newsweek 12 October, 2021 - 11:36am

The video of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield being interviewed on Axios on HBO by Alexi McCammond was shared on Twitter by StandWithUs Israel Executive Director Michael Dickson, where it has since been viewed more than one million times.

Dickson described the interview as a "car crash" in a tweet, adding that it shows "why their Israel boycott is wrong-headed, unfair and yes – discriminatory. No wonder States and customers are dropping them. Unilever ought to act to reverse this – and quickly."

During the interview the pair were asked why, if they disagree with the Israeli government policy, have they not stopped sales in the country altogether instead of just in the areas of West Bank and Gaza.

Car-crash interview by ⁦@benandjerrys⁩ founders showing why their Israel boycott is wrong-headed, unfair and yes - discriminatory. No wonder States and customers are dropping them. @unilever ought to act to reverse this - and quickly. pic.twitter.com/fCpJJfqtXa

"Well, I disagree with the U.S. policy. We couldn't stop selling in the U.S.," Cohen replied. "I think it's fine to be involved with a country, to be a citizen of the country, and to protest some of the country's actions. And that's essentially what we're doing in terms of Israel. We hugely support Israel's right to exist. But we are against a particular policy."

Cohen and Greenfield are of Jewish descent. Cohen explained that they are "always in favor of a two state solution" with regards to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

"The policy of the Israeli government has been to endorse the settlements in the occupied territories that keep on making it harder and harder to actually have a two state solution," Cohen said.

McCammond then asked the pair known for their liberal views and who are "big proponents of voting rights" why they still sell ice cream in Georgia—a state which has passed a number of new restrictive voter laws—as well as in Texas, which recently passed a law which banned abortions in almost all circumstances after just six weeks.

"I don't know," Cohen replies. "I mean, it's an interesting question. I don't know what that that would accomplish. We're working on those issues of voting rights and... [long pause] I don't know, I think you asked a really good question. And I think I'd have to sit down and think about it for a bit."

Cohen then attempts to explain why they still sell Ben and Jerry's in Texas despite the restrictive abortion by stating: "By that reasoning, we should not sell any ice cream anywhere. I've got issues with what's being done in most every state and most every country."

Greenfield then suggests: "I think one thing that's different is that what Israel is doing is considered illegal by international law, so I think that's a consideration."

Alex Gandler, Israeli Deputy Consul General to the Southeast, also shared Dickinson's tweet containing the clip while describing it as a "cringe worthy" interview.

"Making statements and decisions about Israel without understanding anything about it," he added. "It's nice to sit in your nice and green pasture in Vermont while criticizing Israel."

Emmanuel Navon, a professor of political science at Tel Aviv University, tweeted: "Ben Cohen makes such a fool of himself that Jerry Greenfield tries to look smarter by invoking 'international law.' Nice try Jerry, but then why does @benandjerrys still sell ice cream in Crimea, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Cyprus, and Western Sahara?"

Ben and Jerry's has been contacted for comment.

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