The controversy over Ben & Jerry’s move to stop selling ice cream in occupied Palestinian territory

Ben & Jerry's co-founders Ben Cohen (R) and Jerry Greenfield (L) serve ice cream following a press conference announcing a new flavor, Justice Remix'd.

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Ben & Jerry’s announcement on Monday that it would stop selling ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territory has sparked a wave of criticism from Democrats and Republicans, opening up renewed debate over the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The BDS movement is a non-violent, global effort that began in 2005 to put external pressure on the Israeli government in order to change its policies toward and treatment of Palestinians.

The Israeli government has faced escalating criticism in recent years over the expansion of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law, in the occupied West Bank. The issue of settlements and general treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government, including demolitions of Palestinian homes and businesses, sparked violence in the region as recently as the deadly clashes in May. Top human rights groups have denounced the Israeli government’s approach to Palestinians as a form of apartheid.

Ben and Jerry’s has effectively echoed such critiques via its cessation of sales in the occupied Palestinian territory, while giving a highly public boost to BDS. “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” the company said.  

BDS, which is modeled after the boycotts targeting apartheid South Africa, promotes boycotts of Israeli businesses, cultural institutions, and organizations. It also urges companies to stop doing business in Israel. 

Omar Barghouti, a BDS co-founder, said Ben & Jerry’s decision was “quite significant,” per the Associated Press.

“It shows you cannot have business with an apartheid state without being complicit,” he said. “We expect more socially responsible companies to follow suit, perhaps less publicly.”

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Critics of the movement have decried it as anti-Semitic, and many states have anti-BDS laws on the books. The Biden administration has vocally opposed BDS. State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Monday would not comment directly on the ice cream company’s decision, but did state that the Biden administration “firmly” rejects BDS. Price said the movement “unfairly singles out Israel.”

Ben & Jerry’s said it’s not boycotting Israel, just the Palestinian territories it occupies, and “will stay in Israel through a different arrangement.” But Israeli leaders have excoriated the company over its decision and are urging states with anti-BDS laws to activate them against it.

Over 30 states in the United States have passed anti-BDS legislation in recent years. I plan on asking each of them to enforce these laws against Ben & Jerry’s. They will not treat the State of Israel like this without a response.

— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid🟠 (@yairlapid) July 19, 2021


Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the company had branded itself as “the anti-Israeli ice cream.”

The president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, said the move amounted to a “new kind of terrorism.”

But there are progressive proponents of BDS in Congress, and the movement had gained traction on college campuses across the US.

As the conversation on US relations with Israel shifts in Washington, with

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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