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Guest Blogger: Ron Forthofer – Israel Melts Down Over Ice Cream.

August 1, 2021
Ben and Jerry’s “radical” high quality ice cream – time for an anti-boycott!

Israel melts down over ice cream

by Ron Forthofer

Ben & Jerry’s recently made an announcement that created a firestorm in Israel. The full statement is worth reading:

We believe 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. 

We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.

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.

Israeli government leaders have had a meltdown, calling Ben & Jerry’s move: 1) a shameful surrender to anti-Semitism; and 2) a new kind of terrorism. Israeli Prime Minister Bennett said that Ben and Jerry’s has branded itself as an anti-Israel ice cream. Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid also called on US states to use their problematic/questionable laws against the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to target Ben and Jerry’s. Ironically, other Zionist supporters in the US have called for a boycott of Ben & Jerry’s as well as for groceries to stop selling Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

It appears that these over-the-top reactions are designed to shift the attention from criminal and brutal Israeli behaviors. In reality, all the Israeli settlements in the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank are illegal according to international law. Ben & Jerry’s courageously decided that it would no longer abet this major Israeli crime, although it still will sell ice cream in Israel.

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It appears that these over-the-top reactions are designed to shift the attention from criminal and brutal Israeli behaviors. In reality, all the Israeli settlements in the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank are illegal according to international law. Ben & Jerry’s courageously decided that it would no longer abet this major Israeli crime, although it still will sell ice cream in Israel.

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Even though Ben & Jerry’s is standing up for international law and human rights, this is not the major focus of media coverage. Imagine a brave and independent US media that would stress the illegality of Israeli settlements, including in East Jerusalem, as well as point out the cowardice and greed of companies that continue to abet this criminal Israeli behavior.

Israeli leaders have long known that its theft and settlement of Palestinian lands were illegal. For example, a few months after Israel’s aggressive 1967 war in which it seized the Palestinian West Bank and other territories, it knew that establishing civilian settlements there was illegal. Theodor Meron, then legal advisor to Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs, told the Israeli government that settlements in the newly occupied territory were prohibited by Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention on occupied territories. Note that this Convention was established after the horrors of WWII in an effort to prevent future criminal behavior by nations against people living under their occupation. Despite this knowledge, Israeli leaders have continued these crimes for well over 50 years, abetted by the US government and its complicit corporate media.

Israel is afraid that this step by Ben & Jerry’s could encourage other corporations to join them in standing up for international law and human rights. However, if Israel is successful in keeping the media focus on false charges of anti-Semitism, it will be unimpeded in continuing its theft of Palestinian lands and other appalling crimes against Palestinians.

(Ron Forthofer, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Global Peace Collective, long time expert on Middle East Affairs, former Green Party Candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and Governor of Colorado. This article first appeared at “Peace Train” – a regular column of the Colorado Daily on Friday, July 30, 2021. This version is slightly different from the one printed in the Daily )

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