Ben & Jerry’s threatened ban in West Bank creates ripples beyond ice cream stores

by Msnbctv news staff

JERUSALEM (RNS) — Ben & Jerry’s announcement that it’s going to ban the sale of its ice cream in what it calls the “occupied Palestinian territories” starting in 2023 might have wide-reaching authorized and political ramifications, Center East observers say.

In an announcement Monday (July 19), Ben & Jerry’s stated that persevering with to promote merchandise within the West Financial institution and East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured within the Six-Day Warfare in 1967, “is incompatible with our values.”

The Vermont firm, which its founders, each Jewish, bought to the British firm Unilever 20 years in the past, stated it could not renew the contract of its Israeli licensee, which expires on the finish of 2022, as a result of the licensee sells Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in what the corporate calls “occupied” areas.

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“We’ve got been working to alter this, and so we’ve knowledgeable our licensee that we’ll not renew the license settlement when it expires on the finish of subsequent yr,” Ben & Jerry’s stated. 

The assertion added that the corporate “will keep in Israel by a unique association,” however didn’t elaborate. The Israeli franchise is positioned in southern Israel, inside Israel’s internationally acknowledged pre-1967 borders.

Many Israeli and Diaspora Jews say that Ben & Jerry’s has singled out Israel whereas ignoring the actions of different nations, and that it was the Palestinians who rejected the two-state answer drafted by the United Nations.  

“There are over 100 disputed territories that contain over 120 international locations around the globe, but Ben & Jerry’s solely determined to boycott Israel. Don’t inform me it has nothing to do with antisemitism,” Yoni Michanie, a Jewish Israeli, wrote on Twitter.

Israeli Overseas Minister Yair Lapid termed the territories’ boycott a “shameful give up to antisemitism, to BDS and to all that’s improper with the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discourse,” utilizing the acronym for the “boycott, divest, sanction” motion that targets Israel for its remedy of Palestinians.

Lapid urged the 30-plus U.S. states which have handed legal guidelines prohibiting their native governments from contracting with folks or entities that boycott Israel to implement them towards Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever.

Some U.S. Jewish teams have referred to as for a stateside boycott of Ben & Jerry’s, and several other Jewish-owned shops within the U.S. have stated they are going to not carry its merchandise.

The anticipated boycott comes at a time of quickly rising antisemitism, and as an 11-day armed battle in late Might between Israel and Hamas elevated calls to shun Israel.

Through the brief conflict, social media was awash with antisemitic cartoons in addition to anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and claims that Israel’s remedy of Palestinians quantities to “apartheid.” 

In a ballot carried out by the Anti-Defamation League quickly after the Israel-Gaza hostilities ended on Might 30, greater than half (53%) of American Jews stated they’d witnessed “extra habits or conduct deemed antisemitic” than previous to the outbreak of violence.

In the identical examine, 56% of the respondents stated that calling for firms and organizations to boycott, divest or sanction Israel is antisemitic.

Daniel Pomerantz, CEO of the pro-Israel watchdog group HonestReporting and an professional in worldwide legislation, stated boycotts have historically performed an vital position in free speech and social justice inside the USA.

However Pomerantz cautioned towards permitting highly effective non-public firms to dictate overseas coverage by boycotts. Within the U.S., he stated, “we reserve that proper to our elected officers.”

Mahmoud Nawajaa, a BDS official, praised Ben & Jerry’s choice, which the corporate took “after years of stress to finish its involvement within the violation of worldwide legislation.”

Gershon Baskin, a longtime Israeli peace activist, concurred, insisting that Ben & Jerry’s “isn’t anti-Israel” or antisemitic. “It’s making an announcement concerning the occupation, and even when they resolve to not promote in Israel in any respect due to the occupation, it nonetheless wouldn’t be antisemitic.”

Baskin referred to as boycotts a “political act of nonviolence.”

“After we inform Palestinians to not use violence, and as an alternative encourage them to make use of diplomacy and nonviolence, we name it antisemitic,” he stated. By rejecting the BDS motion, “the place are we leaving them?”

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On social media, Israelis cracked jokes about former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s roughly $3,000 monthly ice cream finances, revealed a number of years again (he favored pistachio), and urged the native Ben & Jerry’s licensee to come back out with a brand new taste: Settle-mint.

Avi Zinger, the longtime Ben & Jerry’s franchise holder in Israel, informed Ynet Information that he refused to yield to the father or mother firm’s stress to cease promoting to all Israelis and Palestinians, whether or not in a Jewish settlement or Ramallah.

“I answered, ‘I’m Israeli and I can’t restrict my gross sales there and in addition the legislation requires me to promote in all of Israel.’ I can’t go towards my nation.”

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