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Ben & Jerry’s Opens Up Old Scars With Latest BDS Policy – EDITORIAL


When the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement emerged at the infamous 2001 Durban Conference, Israel’s gross domestic product, a good measure of a country’s economic health, was $130.8 billion.

Twenty years later, Israel’s estimated 2021 GDP will be $446.7 billion. That’s a 242% increase in the country’s GDP — even as BDS founder Omar Barghouti and groups like Vermonters for Justice waged a struggle in Palestine to boycott Israel.

Israel’s exports increased by some 260% during this corresponding period and foreign investment in Israeli companies tripled.

All this happened despite the fact that the BDS movement had small victories from time to time: divestment by a Scandinavian pension fund, the boycott of Israeli universities by certain academics, the refusal of some musicians to play in Israel.

While each of those little wins stung in their own way, they were like mosquito bites: They itch temporarily but don’t affect the body’s overall health. Israel is thriving economically in 2021 in ways it never dreamed of in 2001.

So why did Ben & Jerry’s decision this week to stop selling ice cream in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City and in Efrat, Ma’aleh Adumim and other locations outside the Green Line caused such a stir? Because it stings, it aggravates, and it evokes painful historical memories.

It’s kind of a wake-up call because it shows how shallow the understanding of this conflict is among those who see themselves as progressive, but who see the situation here through an entirely binary lens.

Not only does Ben & Jerry’s ignore historical facts by calling Judea and Samaria “occupied Palestinian territory” – since the territories were never part of an entity called Palestine and should be called “disputed” territories – but they “punish” only one side in a conflict that reasonable people understand is not only that side’s fault. It stings when you are completely blamed, while the other side, who over the years has not acted exactly like Mother Teresa, is completely acquitted.

The virtue-signalling announcement from the highly awakened Vermont-based brand is compounded by utter hypocrisy. This move is meant to signal that the ice cream company cares about human rights, but it gives wind to a movement whose ultimate goal is the dismantling of Israel as a Jewish state, denying Jews their basic right to self-determination.

And the announcement is painful because it recalls times in the past when Jewish businesses were targeted for reasons the boycotts believed to be right and just, followed shortly by the ban and then the burning of Jews themselves. This is not to make any comparison between an American ice cream company and medieval Europe or Nazi Germany, but rather to explain why this move provoked so much anger among Israelis of all political backgrounds.

Disagree with us? Yes. But boycott us? Jewish historical experience has shown that this never ends well.

Those who claim that Ben & Jerry’s is not boycotting Israel, but only the settlements, are fooling themselves. Ben and Jerry’s chairman of the board, Anuradha Mittal, expressed his dismay that its parent company Unilever said the ice cream would continue to be sold in Israel, just not in the “occupied Palestinian territories.”

It’s also worth noting what Facebook user Dalia Masad wrote in response to the announcement Ben & Jerry’s posted on its Facebook page: “Thank you and we Palestinians hope more companies will boycott the apartheid state. We deserve equality, freedom and justice throughout our homeland, from the river to the sea.”

That’s what this is about. It’s not about not being able to buy Cherry Garcia ice cream in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood and ending a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria – it’s about dismantling the Jewish state from “the river to the sea”.

Therefore, Ben & Jerry’s actions should be taken seriously and fought vigorously.

Yes, it’s just ice cream – and no, a Ben & Jerry’s boycott won’t significantly harm Israel’s economy. But what it does do is legitimize those who want to delegitimize Israel and question its right to exist within any boundaries: something Jerusalem must fight with all the means at its disposal.


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