Ben & Jerry's slammed by supermarket over 'racist policy' to end sales in Israel

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Sky News Australia 21 July, 2021 - 05:17am 23 views

Who owns Ben and Jerry ice cream?

Ben & Jerry's, a wholly-owned autonomous subsidiary of Unilever, operates its business on a three-part mission statement emphasizing product quality, economic reward and a commitment to the community. unileverusa.comBen & Jerry's | Brands

In a statement, the company said it was “inconsistent with our values” for the ice cream to be sold in Palestinian territory that was occupied by Israel. Ben and Jerry’s said it would not be renewing an agreement with a local licensee when it expires at the end of next year.

The move provoked rancor in Israel, with government officials condemning the move. “Ben & Jerry’s decided to brand itself as anti-Israel ice cream,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement. “This is a moral mistake and I believe it will turn out to be a business mistake as well.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid dubbed it a “shameful capitulation to antisemitism” and added that Israel could use U.S. laws that target the boycotts, divestment and sanctions movement to retaliate against the company.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, known to be a voracious consumer of ice cream who once had a $2,700-a-year habit while prime minister, also condemned the company, writing on Twitter that Ben & Jerry’s showed Israelis “which ice cream NOT to buy.”

However, some Israeli politicians appeared to welcome the news. Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of Arab parties, tweeted an image of himself eating a tub of “Cone sweet cone” Ben & Jerry’s and grinning.

The decision to pull out of the West Bank came after pressure from pro-Palestinian groups, which argued that the sale of Ben & Jerry’s products in Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory was at odds with the company’s support for social justice.

The brand had been sharply criticized in the aftermath of the conflict between Israeli forces and militants in the Gaza strip in May, with both supporters and critics of Palestinian causes bombarding its social media with questions about the Middle East.

“Any mint lovers out there?” the company’s main Twitter account had asked May 18, before hundreds of accounts pushed it to a position on the Gaza Strip conflict.

“I switched from Häagen-Dazs to you because your stances caught my attention. Your continued silence on this has me seriously considering a boycott,” wrote one critic.

“I’d like the Full-Baked Apartheid please,” wrote another.

The day after, a group called Decolonize Burlington, based in the same Vermont town as Ben & Jerry’s, demanded an international boycott of the local ice cream manufacturer and accused it of hypocrisy for not speaking out on Israel the same way it had about refugee rights, global warming and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“If Ben & Jerry’s wants to profit off of anti-racist messaging, they need to be consistent,” Decolonize Burlington stated. “The BLM movement has publicly supported the Palestinian cause. It’s time for Ben & Jerry’s to divest from their holdings in Israel.”

During the height of the protests after George Floyd’s police killing last summer, Ben & Jerry’s had taken a public stance in support of racial justice. “Silence is not an option,” the company wrote in an essay.

Somewhat ironically, the company went silent on social media after the May 18 tweet. The tweet announcing the end of sales in the West Bank was the first message from Ben & Jerry’s in 62 days.

Some activists appeared to welcome the news, suggesting that it showed the power of social media campaigns, though others expressed disappointment that the company was pulling out of only the West Bank and not all of Israel.

Ben & Jerry’s was founded in 1978 by two Jewish Americans, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. The ice cream maker was bought in 2000 by British company Unilever, though Ben and Jerry’s maintains an unusual amount of freedom under the terms of the deal.

In a statement released Monday, Unilever said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a “very complex and sensitive situation” but that it had recognized the “right of the brand and its independent Board to take decisions about its social mission.”

According to its website, Ben & Jerry’s has conducted business in Israel since 1987 and opened its first store in downtown Tel Aviv the following year. It currently operates two shops in Israel and has a manufacturing plant in Be’er Tuvia.

“Ben & Jerry’s sees its role in the Middle East as a company that remains committed to contributing resources to foster multicultural programs and values-led ingredient sourcing initiatives in the region,” the company wrote on its website in 2015.

Ben & Jerry’s Israel, a local business that holds the license for the brand in the country, had proved popular, both reproducing famous U.S. flavors such as “Phish Food” and adding local twists such as one containing charoset fruit and nut flavor in honor of Passover.

In a message on Twitter, Ben & Jerry’s Israel condemned the decision to pull out of the West Bank, suggesting that its agreement with the Vermont-based company had been terminated after the firm had refused to stop selling “all over Israel.”

“Ice cream is not part of politics,” it wrote.

Read full article at Sky News Australia

How Ben & Jerry's Israel boycott has united many Jews

JNS.org 23 July, 2021 - 12:10am

Some issues simply go too far, and Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling its ice cream in “Occupied Palestinian Territories” was one of those.

David Suissa is President of Tribe Media/Jewish Journal, where he has been writing a weekly column on the Jewish world since 2006. In 2015, he was awarded first prize for "Editorial Excellence" by the American Jewish Press Association. Prior to Tribe Media, David was founder and CEO of Suissa Miller Advertising, a marketing firm named “Agency of the Year” by USA Today. He sold his company in 2006 to devote himself full time to his first passion: Israel and the Jewish world. David was born in Casablanca, Morocco, grew up in Montreal, and now lives in Los Angeles with his five children.

After months of bitter disagreements, it was shocking to see Benjamin Netanyahu finally agree with the rival who took over his beloved throne, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. But some issues simply go too far, and Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling its ice cream in “Occupied Palestinian Territories” was one of those.

“Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy,” tweeted Netanyahu. Bennett, according to his office, “made it clear that he views with utmost gravity the decision by Ben & Jerry’s to boycott Israel, and added that this is a subsidiary of Unilever, which has taken a clearly anti-Israel step.”

This temporary rapprochement between political foes is consistent with much of the Jewish world. How do we explain such widespread distaste for the Ben & Jerry’s decision?

I see two key factors, both having little to do with partisan politics. First, the decision clarified the true mission of the BDS movement—to push for a boycott of ALL of Israel. The movement’s reaction to the announcement made that clear, calling for ending all sales and operations in “Apartheid Israel.” If there’s one thing most Jews agree with, it is that boycotting Israel proper (pre-1967 borders) is out of line.

What’s more, Ben & Jerry’s is coming dangerously close to doing just that. Unlike previous companies subjected to boycotts, such as Sodastream, Ben & Jerry’s makes its ice cream inside Israel proper. It doesn’t even operate any ice cream stores over the 1967 lines; all it does is sell to individuals or vendors such as supermarkets and gas stations.

By targeting sales to the West Bank rather than settler products, Ben & Jerry’s is setting an alarming precedent.

By targeting sales to the West Bank rather than settler products, Ben & Jerry’s is setting an alarming precedent.

There’s even confusion about whether Ben & Jerry’s will still sell its products inside Israel, as was initially suggested by parent company Unilever, which may have spoken too soon. In any case, as reported in JPost, the boycott criteria already set by Ben & Jerry’s “would make any Israeli or foreign company that helps stock a [West Bank] supermarket with those products susceptible to boycotts. Even the European Union doesn’t ban the sale of its products to the settlements.”

Regardless of where one sits on the political spectrum, Ben & Jerry’s has crossed a line that repulses much of the mainstream Jewish community.

The second way that line has been crossed is a familiar one—singling out the Jewish state. Will Ben & Jerry’s now boycott China to protest the ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs? What other atrocities will it protest through national boycotts? And why pick only on Israel?

These are not partisan questions; they are human ones. We’ve seen this singling out of Israel over and over by groups that ignore genocides and mass murders to go after the world’s only Jewish state. For decades, the United Nations, which reserves the majority of its condemnations for Israel, has led this anti-Zionist parade that effectively has signaled that it’s always open season on the Jewish state.

We’ve seen this singling out of Israel over and over by groups that overlook genocides and mass murders to go after the world’s only Jewish state.

When a beloved brand joins the anti-Israel parade so loudly and forcefully, it concentrates the mind. It reminds us, first, of the power of the anti-Israel movement to intimidate, and, second, that regardless of our political disagreements, sometimes it’s worth uniting for a specific cause.

The unfair and discriminatory targeting of Israel is one such cause.

© Copyright 2021 Tribe Media Corp • Powered by Lightdrop

Pro-Palestinian groups welcome Ben & Jerry’s settlement boycott decision

Haaretz 23 July, 2021 - 12:10am

BDS supporters see the ice cream company's removal of its products from settlement shelves as an important step in cutting all ties with Israel

Ben & Jerry’s decision to end sales of ice cream in Israeli settlements in the West Bank is only the first step on the road to a total boycott of the country, a leading activist in the company’s hometown declared on Tuesday.

Standing outside Ben & Jerry’s flagship store in Burlington, Vermont, local businessman Wafic Faour told Channel 13 that while he was initially upset that a decade of activism and protests had not led to a complete break with the Israel, he saw Monday’s announcement as “a positive and small step toward a complete boycott.”

While initially upset that the company had not gone further, the Palestinian-American businessman changed his mind after seeing Israeli politicians railing against the settlement boycott.

When “the Israeli Prime Minister and the ex-Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu come out and call to boycott Ben & Jerry, I thought there are a lot of positive things that came of their statement and our action,” he said, declaring that “occupation [as] a flavor is not good.”

Asked if he personally eats B&J, he replied that he would “have to sit down with the Ben & Jerry’s first to talk about what is the mechanism of their stopping their sale on Jewish only settlements, and maybe we’ll celebrate together with them by eating Ben & Jerry.”

In a statement, local group Vermonters for Justice in Palestine declared that Ben & Jerry’s had to go further, calling on it to push other firms to leave the country and insisting that “by maintaining a presence in Israel, Ben & Jerry's continues to be complicit in the killing, imprisonment and dispossession of Palestinian people and the flaunting of international law.”

The statement also quoted Faour, who is a member, as saying that “since 1947, Palestinian people have been victimized by Israeli Zionists who have arrived there through racially-selective immigration policies. Ben & Jerry's should completely disengage from Israel and apologize for their normalization with an apartheid state over the past decades.”

According to NBC News, the decision to stop selling in the settlements came over the objections of the ice cream maker’s independent board, which retained control over “preserving and expanding Ben & Jerry's social mission, brand integrity and product quality” in the wake of its sale to conglomerate Unilever in 2000.

Chairwoman Anuradha Mittal told the network that the board had wanted to remove a sentence stressing that Ben & Jerry’s was “fully committed” to its presence in Israel from the statement, but that the final wording was released without board approval.

“I am saddened by the deceit of it," Mittal said. "This is not about Israel. It is about the violation of the acquisition agreement that maintained the soul of the company. I can't stop thinking that this is what happens when you have a board with all women and people of color who have been pushing to do the right thing,” Mittal told NBC.

Mittal is the founder of the progressive Oakland Institute think-tank and a longtime critic of Israel. She has tweeted in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, called for the end of military aid to Israel and demanded that National Geographic sever ties with actress Gal Gadot because of her IDF service.

In a statement, the BDS movement “warmly” welcomed Ben & Jerry’s announcement, but called on the firm “to end all operations” in Israel.

“Ben & Jerry’s, a leading socially responsible international company, is finally bringing its policy on Israel’s regime of oppression against Palestinians in line with its progressive positions on Black Lives Matter and other justice struggles. We hope Ben & Jerry’s has understood that, in harmony with its social justice commitments, there can be no business as usual with apartheid Israel.”

According to food blog Yeah That’s Kosher, kosher supermarkets across the US have begun removing Ben & Jerry’s products from shelves in a counter-boycott.

According to the site, chains, such as Gourmet Glatt, Aroma Kosher Market, and Seasons Market, have all stopped stocking the company’s ice cream.

In Australia, the Kashrut Authority of New South Wales removed Ben & Jerry's ice cream from its database of kosher products.

"Although Ben & Jerry’s  ice cream is approved as kosher by a prominent, international kosher certification body, The Kashrut Authority of Australia & NZ decided to remove the products from its list due to the decision by Unilever to not allow supply of its ice cream to consumers in Judea and Samaria," Kashrut Authority President Baron M Revelman told Haaretz on Wednesday.

"Together with other Jewish communal bodies worldwide the KA is alarmed at the capitulation of Unilever to the anti-Israel boycott movement. Anti-Zionism is an insidious contemporary form of Anti-Semitism. The BDS movement has unilaterally sided with terrorist organizations who have been responsible for numerous atrocities over decades including the recent unprovoked and excessive bombardment of missiles on Israel’s civilian population."

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