President Isaac Herzog called boycotts of Israel “a new kind of terrorism” on Wednesday, joining a chorus of Israeli officials who have ripped into Ben & Jerry’s over its decision to cease ice cream sales in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem.
“The boycott against Israel is a new type of terrorism — economic terrorism. Terrorism that seeks to harm Israeli citizens and the Israeli economy. We must oppose this boycott and terrorism of any kind,” Herzog said during his remarks at a memorial event for former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir.
“The BDS campaign does not pursue peace and seeks to undermine the very existence of the State of Israel. It is aiming its arrows at the Israeli economy,” he continued, insisting that all Israeli leaders over the years would respond aggressively to such measures directed against the Jewish state.
The comments were lambasted by the Palestinian Authority foreign ministry, which said in a statement that “the occupation is terrorism itself. It is the worst kind of terrorism.”
“The Israeli president should thank Ben & Jerry’s. They’re an alarm bell. Either Israel wakes up from its occupation and works to end it, or it will face a total boycott,” the PA foreign ministry added.
Yair Golan, from the left-wing Meretz party, was similarly critical of Herzog’s characterization of the boycott.
The former deputy IDF chief of staff tweeted at Herzog, writing: “As someone who knows terrorism and has been fighting terrorism all his life, what is happening in the international arena is not terrorism. We must fight against the boycott with one hand, and for a two-state solution with the other. But using concepts drawn from the world of violence is not the way.”
“An ice cream boycott is not terrorism,” Golan added.
On Monday, Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would no longer distribute its products in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” apparently referring to West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem.
It said the decision would take effect at the end of 2022 when its contract with the current Israeli manufacturer and distributor expires. The future of Ben & Jerry’s sales across Israel beginning in 2023 remains in question.
The news was met with furious condemnation in Israel, with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid vowing to ask dozens of US states to activate their anti-BDS laws to punish the ice cream company.