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Israeli envoy urges 35 US states to enact anti-BDS laws against Ben & Jerry’s

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Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, has sent letters to the governors of the 35 US states that have passed legislation against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, asking that Ben & Jerry’s sanctions be lifted. over his recent decision to stop selling in settlements in the West Bank.

“I request that you consider speaking out against the company’s decision and taking other relevant steps, including in connection with your state laws and the commercial dealings between Ben and Jerry’s and your state,” Erdan’s letter read. said he was making the move with Secretary of State Yair Lapid.

The states that have passed anti-BDS legislation include Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, California, Maryland, and Texas, but not Vermont, where Ben & Jerry’s is headquartered.

Erdan wrote that Israel considers Ben & Jerry’s decision very harsh, as it is the de facto adoption of anti-Semitic practices and promoting the delegitimization of the Jewish state and the dehumanization of the Jewish people.

The letter also claimed that such boycotts also “significantly harm Palestinians,” many of whom shop in Israeli stores in the West Bank.

On Monday, Ben & Jerry’s announced it would no longer distribute its products in the “occupied Palestinian territories,” apparently referring to settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It said the decision would come into effect at the end of 2022, when the contract with the current Israeli manufacturer and distributor expires. The future of Ben & Jerry’s sales throughout Israel from 2023 remains in doubt.

At a US State Department press conference on Tuesday, spokesman Ned Price said he has no “reaction to offer regarding the actions of a private company” when asked about the situation, but White House officials reiterated that ” firmly reject the BDS movement, which Israel unfairly singles out.”

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for sale in a Jerusalem store on July 19, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Price added that the US will be “a strong partner in countering efforts around the world that may seek to delegitimize Israel” in a manner “consistent with the first amendment rights of the American people.” .

Ben & Jerry’s Israel, a licensee of the Vermont-based company — which will continue to sell its products throughout Israel until the end of 2022, including in the West Bank settlements — said sales have increased since Monday’s announcement.

“I just want to thank the hundreds of thousands of people who have reached out to offer their support and assistance,” Ben & Jerry’s Israel CEO Avi Zinger said in a video posted to social media on Tuesday evening. “And to the many of you who went out to buy ice cream today, thank you, together we will beat BDS.”

The company said revenue on Tuesday was 21 percent higher than on an average day.

Meanwhile, a growing number of kosher supermarkets in the US — and around the world — announced that they would stop stocking Ben & Jerry’s products after the decision.

Morton Williams, a chain of 16 supermarkets in the New York City area, said it would cut the Ben & Jerry’s products it sells by 70%, stop promoting them in its weekly circulars, and make them hard-to-find. locations in its stores .

“This action is being taken in response to Ben & Jerry’s boycott of Jewish communities at the center of a territorial dispute in Israel, including Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter – which has been inhabited by Jews for more than 3,000 years,” the supermarket chain said in a statement. statement. statement.

Seasons, which has six stores in and around New York, said it would remove all Ben & Jerry’s products from its stores, stating, “We stand behind Israel. Always.”

In Teaneck, New Jersey, which has a significant Jewish population, both Cedar Market and Glatt Express, and Grand & Essex in neighboring Bergenfield, New Jersey, said they would stop selling the ice cream.

Kosher Kingdom, based in Melbourne, Australia, said it would also stop selling Ben & Jerry’s and unload the remaining stock at a discount.

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