Ben & Jerry’s Caves to Antisemitic BDS Pressure, Announces End of Ice Cream Sales in Israel

A Ben & Jerry's ice cream production line.

July 20, 2021

The Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company caved to BDS pressure on Monday, announcing it would end sales of its products in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” the Vermont-based brand — a subsidiary of the British conglomerate Unilever — said in a statement.

According to media reports, Ben & Jerry’s — founded in 1978 by Jewish childhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield — had been lobbied heavily in recent years by BDS activists to stop doing business in Israel, particularly following this past May’s Gaza violence.

The anti-Israel BDS movement is rooted in antisemitism. BDS advocates deny the Jewish right to self-determination and seek to replace Israel with a Muslim-majority state.

Ben & Jerry’s decision to discriminate against Israeli communities in East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the entirety of the State of Israel, violates the widely-recognized International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

The definition’s accompanying list of 11 specific antisemitism behaviors includes, “Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

Furthermore, “double standards” are one of the criteria of human rights icon Natan Sharansky’s famed “Three Ds Test of Antisemitism.”

There are many disputed territories in the world, yet Ben & Jerry’s chose to single out Israel over its presence in Judea and Samaria, the biblical homeland of the Jewish people.

According to media reports, the statement by Ben & Jerry’s that it will no longer distribute its products in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory” but will remain in Israel was released by the company’s owner, Unilever, without consulting with the ice cream maker’s board — which had intended to put out a different statement that made no mention of committing to continue doing business with the Jewish state, Ben & Jerry’s chairman Anuradha Mittal told NBC News.

Ben & Jerry’s was condemned by Israeli leaders and Jewish organizations around the world following its announcement.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said, “Ben & Jerry’s decision represents shameful surrender to antisemitism, to BDS and to all that is wrong with the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discourse.”

“We will not be silent,” he added.

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Gilad Erdan wrote a letter to the governors of the 35 states that have passed anti-BDS legislation urging them to take punitive steps against Ben & Jerry’s.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said it was “deeply disappointed” by Ben & Jerry’s decision.

“We are dismayed that [Ben and Jerry’s] would ally itself with the discriminatory and antisemitic BDS Movement,” it stated. “We strongly urge them to rescind this decision.”

Several supermarket chains in the U.S. declared they would remove Ben & Jerry’s products from their inventories in protest.

Back in 2018, Airbnb announced it would delist rental listings in Israeli communities Judea and Samaria, but it later reversed this move after a public outcry.

Ben & Jerry’s would be wise to follow suit, and reconsider the bigoted decision it announced on Monday.