Dear Ben and Jerry,
Your recent open letter defending your former company’s decision to boycott Judea and Samaria was either intentionally misleading or shockingly ill-informed.
You wrote that the decision to halt sales in the disputed areas is not a boycott of the entire State of Israel, nor an endorsement of the BDS movement, but you conveniently left out some important information: The chairwoman of the board that made the decision is in fact a staunch and public BDS supporter, who also made it known that the board had wanted to “release a different statement… that made no reference to continued sales in Israel” until the parent company, Unilever, unilaterally changed the language against the will of the board. Furthermore, the company is well aware that Israeli law actually forbids this kind of action (i.e., the boycott of Israeli citizens, Jewish or Arab, based on their location), and so in effect the company is actually boycotting all of Israel proper. And finally, the announcement in practice only affects the Israeli licensee, who does not own any stores in those disputed territories. It discriminates against him, an Israeli citizen whose entire operation is in Israel, because he refuses to break Israeli law.
You noted that it is possible for the company to support the State of Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as Ben and Jerry’s has opposed certain policies of the U.S. government in the past. That is undoubtedly true and entirely irrelevant. What makes this decision wrong and definitionally antisemitic is that you don’t treat Israel the same way that you treat the United States, or any other country for that matter. The example you give in your letter is instructive: You describe how the company has long advocated for peace, and has even called on Congress to reduce the U.S. military budget. But did the company ever boycott any part of America? Or any other country? Of course not.
You go on to note that “as Jewish supporters of the State of Israel, we fundamentally reject the notion that it is anti-Semitic to question the policies of the State of Israel.” Sadly, whether or not you are aware of it, you have bought in to a straw man argument made by antisemites the world over as a disingenuous way of hiding their discriminatory hatred behind a thin-veil of anti-Zionism. To be clear- no one disagrees with that notion, and no one is upset at you for disagreeing with Israel. Of course, you can criticize and oppose the policies of the State. But name one other country in the entire world whose capital city you have boycotted because you did not like their policies.
You claim that the decision was a “step to align its business and operations with its progressive values,” but you feel free to let the company do business with Iran, China, Syria, and any number of other human-rights abusers. The only country you have singled out as worthy of your corporate condemnation is the Jewish State.
For the record, even your stated condemnation belies an uneducated acceptance of the fundamentally false BDS narrative which denies Jewish claims to the land and places the blame for the current situation on Israel. You claim that “Israeli policy… perpetuates an illegal occupation that is a barrier to peace and violates the basic human rights of the Palestinian people who live under the occupation.” Maybe you don’t know that Israel has repeatedly (over 30 times,) offered plans for peace and division of the land. Some of those plans, including the Clinton Peace Parameters, were even supported by much of the Arab world. You should definitely research that before you make such sweeping declarations. For your own edification, Israel (legitimately) gained a total of 26,178 square miles of territory in the defensive war of 1967. To date, it has ceded sovereignty over 23,871 square miles or 87% of that territory. At various times in recent history (including deals proposed in 2000, 2008, and 2014), Israel has offered up to 99.3% of the remaining disputed territory in exchange for the peace Ben and Jerry’s claims to be yearning for. Each time, the Palestinians refused. Did you consider those facts before you propagated the false narrative that Jews are not indigenous people living in their own ancestral homeland? I didn’t think so.
Here is the cold hard truth without any sugar coating- the flavor of the month may be “anti-Israel senti-Mint, but when ‘criticism’ of the Jewish State is done in a discriminatory manner, i.e. when Israel is singled out for disparate and disparaging treatment, there is a word for that, and that word is antisemitism.
Dr. Mark Goldfeder, Esq. is Director of the National Jewish Advocacy Center
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.