Make Prime Minister Bennett’s prediction of a “business mistake” come true. Turn to other brands, as good or better, and usually much healthier, than Ben and Jerry’s. Writes Hugh Fitzgerald
A win for the BDS, but for how long? Here is the story of the Great Ice Cream Betrayal: “Ben & Jerry’s melts under BDS pressure, to stop selling in settlements,” by Tovah Lazaroff and Maayan Giloh, Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2021:
Well-known ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s announced on Monday its plan to boycott West Bank settlements and Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, by refusing to allow its products to be sold in those areas.
“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 stated in a notice it posted on its website.
The move gives a boost to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has targeted the Vermont-based American company for the last decade.
The group Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine had been particularly active on the issue.
Hmmm. So for the last decade Ben and Jerry’s has been under the relentless assault of the BDSers. Yet it held out until today. After such a long time, what made it finally succumb? Did it learn something about the legal status of Judea and Samaria (a.k.a the “West Bank”) that it hadn’t known before? That seems unlikely. More likely, its problem was that Ben and Jerry did not know anything about the legal status of Judea and Samaria, and chose not to find out. They were simply worn down by a local group in Vermont, and worried, too, that the BDSers might harm their sales in the U.S. It was a matter of simple calculation: we stand to lose a lot of sales if we don’t satisfy the BDS movement. Why not give them what they want?
The ice cream company, known for taking a stand on social justice issues, clarified that it was not boycotting Israel, just the “occupied Palestinian territories.”
What arrogance, what surquidry, what swank: we, Ben and Jerry, are both supremely well-informed on the issue of the “Palestinian territories” and morally superior in every move we make. Just look at all the “rights” we support: women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrants’ rights, voters’ rights. How could we be on the wrong side of anything? We are here to make the world a better place. We’re not just selliing ice cream. We’re“repairing the world.” Tikkun olam, dontcha know?
Have you, Ben, and you too, Jerry, read the Mandate for Palestine? Would it surprise you to learn that Article 6 of that Mandate calls for “close settlement by Jews on the land”? Which land? Oh, the “land” the League of Nations had assigned to the future Jewish National Home. That is, all the land from the Golan in the north to the Red Sea in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east, to the Mediterranean in the west? Do you know that when the League of Nations went out of business in 1946, the U.N., in Article 80 of its Charter, had already pledged to continue honoring the mandates that were then still in effect? The BDS has been after you two for ten years, and in all that time, while you fended off its threats, you didn’t give a thought to reading – much less comprehending – the Mandate for Palestine? You’ve each made $150 million. You can’t be working all the time. You must have some time to read. You’re not idiots. Do your homework.
And what about U.N. Resolution 242, which was passed unanimously by the U.N. General Assembly on Nov. 22, 1967? That’s the Resolution that gave Israel the right to retain any territory that it had won in the Six-Day War if it was needed by the Jewish state to have “secure [i.e. defensible] and recognized boundaries”? Have you — Jerry? Ben? — read that Resolution? Have you read the detailed discussion of its meaning provided by its main author, the British ambassador to the U.N., Lord Caradon? No. I thought not. Perhaps you two have fallen for the Arab line that Resolution 242 required Israel to withdraw from “all the territories” it won in 1967? Just read and remember this:
The chief drafter of Resolution 242 was Lord Caradon (Hugh M. Foot), the permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations from 1964-1970. At the time of the Resolution’s discussion and subsequent unanimous passage, and on many occasions since, Lord Caradon always insisted that the phrase “from the territories” quite deliberately did not mean “all the territories,” but merely some of the territories:
Much play has been made of the fact that we didn’t say “the” territories or “all the” territories. But that was deliberate. I myself knew very well the 1967 boundaries and if we had put in the “the” or “all the” that could only have meant that we wished to see the 1967 boundaries perpetuated in the form of a permanent frontier. This I was certainly not prepared to recommend.
On another occasion, to an interviewer from the Journal of Palestine Studies (Spring-Summer 1976), he again insisted on the deliberateness of the wording. He was asked:
The basis for any settlement will be United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, of which you were the architect. Would you say there is a contradiction between the part of the resolution that stresses the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and that which calls for Israeli withdrawal from “occupied territories,” but not from “the occupied territories”?
Lord Caradon answered:
I defend the resolution as it stands. What it states, as you know, is first the general principle of inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war. That means that you can’t justify holding onto territory merely because you conquered it. We could have said: well, you go back to the 1967 line. But I know the 1967 line, and it’s a rotten line. You couldn’t have a worse line for a permanent international boundary. It’s where the troops happened to be on a certain night in 1948. It’s got no relation to the needs of the situation.
Had we said that you must go back to the 1967 line, which would have resulted if we had specified a retreat from all the occupied territories, we would have been wrong.
Have you now learned enough to realize that those “settlements” are not illegal, as the BDS crowd had apparently, after 10 years of trying, finally managed to convince you or at least worn you down so much that you pretended to be convinced? The Mandate for Palestine doesn’t just allow, but positively encourages, “close settlement by Jews” on the land assigned to the Mandate. U.N. Resolution 242 doesn’t just allow, but positively encourages, Israel to hold onto territory it needs for its defense, as determined by the Israelis themselves. And that includes, at a minimum, the Jordan Valley, the Golan Heights, and those settlements in Judea and Samaria (a.k.a the West Bank) where half a million Israelis live who in any future war, because the adults have all received military training and served in the IDF, will, be an important reserve force, capable of helping to stop any potential invader from the East. Do you, Ben Cohen, and you, Jerry Greenfield, really want Israel to be squeezed back into the 1949 armistice lines that Abba Eban once described as the “lines of Auschwitz”? Do you want Israel to again have a nine-mile-wide waist from Qalqilya to the sea? Nine miles: that’s only one-third the distance from your headquarters in South Burlington to your plant in St. Albans. Something to think about.
It [Ben and Jerry’s] said that it would maintain its sales relationship with areas of Israel within the pre-1967 borders.
“Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement. We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready,” the company explained….’
One resident of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement who did not want to be named said he was disappointed by the announcement, but it would not cause him to boycott Ben & Jerry’s in return.
“It’s the best ice cream you can get in stores here by far,” he said. “I’ll just buy my New York Chunk Fudge in Jerusalem and smuggle it back home past all the checkpoints.”
I hope this forgiving attitude is not shared by many in Israel. Ben and Jerry’s has slapped you in the face – Ma’aleh Adumim is one of those cities that the company considers to be a “settlement” in the so-called “Occupied Palestinian Territories” – so slap them right back. Give up the New York Chunk Fudge. Give up Cherry Garcia. It’s not such a sacrifice. You want Ben and Jerry’s to suffer economically, not just to teach that company a lesson, but to discourage other companies that might be calculating that they should follow in its footsteps.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu quipped, “Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy.”
It’s not just Israelis, of course, who now know which ice cream not to buy. It’s all those who are outraged by that sinister worldwide BDS campaign, who want to express solidarity with Israel, who want to infuriate Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar and Linda Sarsour, who will now determinedly boycott Ben and Jerry’s.
And let us not forget that 30 states have passed anti-BDS measures – mostly condemnations, but some were laws that forbid contracting with, or investing in, companies that subscribe to a boycott of Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: “Ben & Jerry’s has decided to brand itself as the anti-Israel ice cream. This decision is morally wrong and I believe that it will become clear that it is also commercially wrong.”
Ben and Jerry’s calculates it has more to lose in sales by ignoring BDS than it does in yielding to it. It may pretend that such a crude financial calculation had nothing to do with such a high-minded decision. But of course. It had everything to do with it. As Mr. Dooley famously said, “When people say it’s not the money, it’s the principle – it’s the money.”
Make Prime Minister Bennett’s prediction of a “business mistake” come true.
Turn to other brands, as good or better, and usually much healthier, than Ben and Jerry’s.
After I finished writing the above, I went out, bought, and then tried a dish of Talenti’s Sicilian Pistachio. Wonderful. This brand comes with a history lesson. It is named after the celebrated Italian Renaissance architect, Bernardo Buontalenti, who at the whimsical command of his patron Cosimo I de’ Medici, first came up with the dessert we call ice cream. That’s a pedigree that puts Ben and Jerry’s in the shade. Try it.