SAN DIEGO — There has been backlash after Ben and Jerry’s ice cream company made a political move in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Vermont-based company said Monday it stopped sales in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories.
Jews from across the world are calling this move antisemitic and urging the ice cream company to promote peace.
“Ben and Jerry’s likes to see itself as a socially conscience brand but they are aligning themselves with a social cause that is inaccurate and hateful,” said Yael Steinberg, San Diego With Us Director.
Stand With Us is an international non-partisan Israel education organization that combats antisemitism.
On Monday Ben and Jerry’s posted the following on its website:
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.
We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. 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. We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready.”
Pro-Palestinian activists known as Boycott Divestment Sanctions had threatened to boycott Ben and Jerry’s if it did not pull out.
“Stand With Us' petition has gotten over 10,000 signatures urging Ben and Jerry's to reverse their decision and instead promote peace and fight hate instead of blaming Israel for a one-sided conflict,” said Steinberg.
The Jewish Federation of San Diego County echoed their urge for reconsideration.
“We do not believe that boycotts do anything at all to advance the peace process. Jewish Federation of San Diego County and Federations across North America call on Ben & Jerry's and Unilever to reconsider this decision,” said Interim President & CEO, Heidi Gantwerk.
Former Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, “Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy.”
The country’s new prime minister Naftali Bennett said Ben and Jerry’s is branding themselves as anti-Israel.
Some stores across the U.S. are shelving the ice cream in protest.
“We are not promoting a boycott of Ben and Jerry's by any means we just want to educate and teach the community and teach their company that they are misinformed and the decision they are making is giving attention to a movement that doesn't deserve it,” said Yael.
Ben and Jerry’s says it will not renew its license agreement in Israel when it expires at the end of 2022.
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