By Amy Zewe—
Much has been pontificated over social media channels about the scuttlebutt over Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Their board of directors succumbed to years of BDS pressure and recent double downs from BDS activists since the Gaza aggression against Israel this past May.
Ben and Jerry’s decided to cut ties with its Israeli region distributor and discontinue sales in the Judean and Sumerian regions—the so-called disputed or occupied territories. And this decision is getting a fair amount of criticism as the decision was made as a form of punishment for Israel as being a so-called occupier and aggressor and oppressor against Palestinian peoples in the regions. (Please note that while Ben and Jerry’s was founded by Jews, they have since sold to the Unilever corporation.)
But why do we care so much about an ice cream company deciding to not do business within parts of Israel?
Israelis and the inhabitants of Israel are not so much concerned about access to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream per se. Israelis are extremely innovative and smart, and if they want to make excellent ice cream they certainly can. In fact, the founders of Haagen-Dazs and Baskin-Robbins were also Jewish and, in my opinion, their ice cream always tasted better anyway. The point is that Ben and Jerry’s board, with the blessing of its parent company Unilever, succumbed to pressure from BDS activists for the sole purpose of punishing Israel in the name of some alleged social justice reason. But in fact, with the various legislative initiatives in both America (bipartisan) and the EU, technically, these actions can be deemed illegal. These BDS tactics are overtly antisemitic and reminiscent of economic discrimination against Jews in Europe in the last century.
As well, keep in mind that today in the so-called occupied territories, both Israeli and Arabs live and work, and removing Ben and Jerry’s from shops may indeed hurt local business owners and their employees. And, this action hurts the 2000 or so employees in a distribution depot in the region….many of said workers are Palestinian and enjoying Israeli employment laws and protections and working for what they all thought was a great corporate culture.
So what else is the fuss about? Why are Americans angry about this? Why is Governor DeSantis of Florida and some other of the 35 states that have passed anti-BDS legalization seem to be “ganging” up on Ben and Jerry’s or Unilever? Because the legislation on the books does not allow for these states to engage in business with businesses that are participating in BDS activities—already identified and declared to be antisemitic in nature (and at the very least, discriminatory). Therefore, states with anti-BDS laws on its books may now be eliminating Ben and Jerry’s from its cafeterias, on-campus or on-post commissaries, and even divesting its pension and other funds from any stock in Unilever, a publicly traded company who is accountable to its share holders. (I am very interested in seeing the next quarterly report release from Unilever).
Again, nobody is really lamenting the fact that they may not be able to get ahold of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in certain jurisdictions in Israel. Plenty of excellent ice creams will remain available and the people are extremely innovative, and they probably can come up with some better ice cream if they put their minds to it. The issue is the blatant corporate-level systemic discrimination—which is anti-Zionism also manifesting as antisemitism and in the end hurting the Palestinians –whom the BDS movement claims they want to help. But this is one more activity that proves that the BDS movement is far more interested in punishing Israel (and Jews) then they are interested in helping any Palestinians in any jurisdiction.
The culmination of little things is what leads to the big things slipping right under our noses. Small actions and activities of antisemitism or anti-Zionism will lead to great actions of each. We already see this. Small and snide comments and memes on social media leave people feeling immune to walking up to Jews in the street and attacking them. During the Gazan rocket brigade onto Israel in May, since then, participation in Students for Justice in Palestine groups on College Campuses have nearly doubled in the wake of fake and spun headlines. If you look at the news headlines from the weeks past, all you see are the terms Genocide, colonialism, apartheid, aggression, and more—aggressive words pointed at the targets of terrorists rocket attacks who are actually de-colonizing their homeland and doing so with every interest of providing human rights and freedoms to the regions inhabitants and its neighbors—while maintaining order and security.
I say go buy Haagan Daz-and Baskin-Robins for your ice cream cravings. I have purged my house of those products—all of which have quality replacements by companies not engaged in singling out Israel and not looking to hurt any local population of any given region to appease a fake social justice agenda.
Shavua tov; have a great week.