Tag Archives: Ben and Jerry's

We’re Ben and Jerry. Men of Ice Cream, Men of Principle. by Bennet Cohen and Jerry Greenfield

The Ben and Jerry of Ben and Jerry’s explain their stance on ending the company’s business in the occupied territories. From Cohen and Greenfield at archive.vn:

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.
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.
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.

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Some Cherry Garcia, Please, by Patrick Lawrence

The hair-on-fire reaction to Ben and Jerry’s decision to no longer market its products in Israeli settlements on the West Bank when current contracts expire at the end of 2022 seems wildly disproportionate to the scope of the decision. It calls to mind the line from Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much . . .” American conservatives who wail about cancel culture and Big Tech censorship have implemented anti-Boycott, Divest, and Sanction legislation, almost certainly an abridgement of the First Amendment rights they claim to champion, in 35 states. The real danger is that people may be starting to take a hard look not just at the Palestine-Israel issue, long one of America’s least favorite topics, but at the bipartisan and slavish devotion of so many US politicians to the Israel and Jewish lobbies. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:

Targeting and killing Palestinian children could not accomplish what a decision by an ice cream company has achieved. To be sure, the visual impact of Israel’s recent onslaught on Gaza turned many against that country’s war crimes and its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, but what the Israeli government really has feared most is an economic and cultural boycott such as the one that brought down the apartheid regime in South Africa. That blow came last week when Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which is sold in the food shops in the illegal-under-international-law Israeli settlements on the West Bank, would no longer market its product in those areas after the current contract with suppliers expires at the end of 2022.

Social media and mainstream media normally censor any posts or stories that are too critical of the Jewish state, but in this case the decision reverberated throughout the media as ice cream wars are both newsworthy and exceedingly rare. But the dramatic response by both Israeli politicians and their spear carriers in the US Congress indicated just how serious the move, little more than a gesture in practical terms, was considered to be.

There was also a touch of irony to the tale as Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were and still are both politically liberal Jewish New Yorkers who moved to Vermont to open their business. The fact is that they were not party to the decision as they had sold their company to British food and consumer home products conglomerate Unilever back in 2000, which is precisely the problem for the Israeli government. Even though Ben & Jerry’s has an independent board, its parent company Unilever is a major corporation. The fact that it accepted a decision that it knew would be extremely controversial is significant as there would have to have been a consensus over the issue by the company’s top executives and board as well by major shareholders. There are indeed reports that the independent board of Ben & Jerry’s wanted to boycott all of Israel but was restrained by Unilever management. Either way, for Israel it was perhaps the shape of things to come with other companies possibly following the Ben & Jerry example by limiting their involvement in the country’s economy or pulling out altogether.

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