Ben & Jerry’s Quits Yehuda and Shomron

A Ben & Jerry’s display freezer. (Amin)

Ben & Jerry’s decision on Monday to terminate sales of its ice cream products in Yehuda and Shomron brought a scathing reaction from Foreign Minister Yair Lapid who said Israel will retaliate.

“Ben & Jerry’s decision is a disgraceful capitulation to antisemitism, to BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel], to all that is evil in the anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish discourse,” said Lapid. “We won’t be silent.”

He said also that he will ask the over 30 U.S. states to implement their anti-BDS laws against Ben & Jerry’s, which would mean divestiture from it as a company that boycott Israel.

Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu tweeted: “Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy.”

Ben & Jerry’s popular ice cream flavors will soon no longer be sold in Yehuda and Shomron, the company announced on Monday, saying that to continue there would be inconsistent with its progressive values.

In a statement, the company said, it believes that “it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.

The management said that “we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.”

But, it added, “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.”

Under the headline, “Ben & Jerry’s Freezes Ice Cream Sales in Israeli Settlements,” Haaretz noted that “The Vermont-based ice cream company…has long been associated with progressive values. Last year, following the murder of George Floyd, the company added a special section of its website devoted to combating white supremacy.”

However, its operations in Yehuda and Shomron drew criticism. On May 19, a social justice group called Decolonize Burlington in Vermont for Americans to boycott the company, according to the Burlington Free Press. Other left-wing groups have also demanded that the ice cream company pull out of the region, according to the report.

The Israeli licensee, Ben & Jerry’s Israel said “the decision is entirely unacceptable. Ben & Jerry’s international decided not to renew their agreement with us in a year and a half after we refused their demand to stop distribution throughout Israel,” it said, according to The Times of Israel. “We urge the Israeli government and consumers — don’t let them boycott Israel.

“The Israeli consumer must not punish the Israeli factory, which is independent and employs hundreds of people in southern Israel,” it said in a statement.

Also in response, the Yesha Council said: “We hope that the Ben & Jerry’s company will walk back this discriminatory decision, which brings a bitter spirit to such a sweet area.”

“In the hot summer days, we urge Israelis around the country to eat delicious, sweet Israeli ice cream. There’s no need to buy products from companies that boycott hundreds of thousands of citizens of the State of Israel because of where they chose to live,” they said in a statement.

Left-wing Meretz MK Michal Rozin cast the blame on Israel’s right wing: “Ben & Jerry’s is not boycotting Israel, but rather the settlements. You may not like it, but this is the price of settlement expansion, land grabs, and the blurring of the Green Line,” Rozin tweeted.

AIPAC tweeted: “It is discriminatory and against the interests of peace and reconciliation to launch a one-sided boycott when it is the Palestinian leadership that refuses to come to the negotiating table with Israel.”

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