The company’s founders stressed that they are “proud Jews” and that Israel was one of the company’s first overseas markets.
https://www.jpost.com-By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
A woman holds Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at her home in Jerusalem on July 19, 2021.(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, stated that they are “supporters of the State of Israel,” but still support the company’s decision to boycott Israeli settlements in the West Bank, in an opinion piece in The New York Times on Wednesday.
The two stressed that they are “proud Jews” and that Israel was one of the company’s first overseas markets.
“But it’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the US government,” wrote the founders. “As such, we unequivocally support the decision of the company to end business in the occupied territories, which the international community, including the United Nations, has deemed an illegal occupation.”
Cohen and Greenfield added that they no longer have any operational control of the company, but are “proud of its action and believe it is on the right side of history,” calling it “especially brave” and “one of the most important decisions the company has made in its 43-year history.”
The two explained that not only is the decision not a contradiction nor antisemitic, in their eyes, but that it “can and should be seen as advancing the concepts of justice and human rights, core tenets of Judaism.”
The Ben & Jerry’s founders pointed to other advocacy efforts the company did in the past, saying in the Times opinion piece that the decision to halt sales in the West Bank was similar.
Cohen and Greenfield stressed that the company drew a contrast between the State of Israel and the settlements in the West Bank, saying that the decision to halt sales is not a boycott of Israel and did not endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Despite the fact that the company’s statement made a distinction between the State of Israel and West Bank settlements, members of the company’s board of directors stated after the announcement that they had wanted to boycott Israel in its entirety, but was stopped from doing so by the ice-cream maker’s CEO and the British-based parent company Unilever.
“The statement released by Ben & Jerry’s regarding its operation in Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territory does not reflect the position of the Independent Board nor was it approved by the Independent Board,” read a statement by Ben & Jerry’s Independent Board of Directors.
“Over the years, we’ve also come to believe that there is a spiritual aspect to business, just as there is to the lives of individuals,” wrote the two founders in the Times. “As you give, you receive. We hope that for Ben & Jerry’s, that is at the heart of the business. To us, that’s what this decision represents, and that is why we are proud that 43 years after starting an ice cream shop in a dilapidated gas station in Burlington, Vt., our names are still on the package.”
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.