'Ben & Jerry’s chose to suck up to terrorists, antisemites'

Interior minister: Israel drumming up US grassroots boycott of Ben & Jerry’s

Ayelet Shaked visits Israeli ice cream factory, says she’s working with Jewish and evangelical groups to pressure US company to drop settlement ban

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked tours the Ben and Jerry's factory in Israel, on July 21, 2021. (Flash90)
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked tours the Ben and Jerry's factory in Israel, on July 21, 2021. (Flash90)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked visited the local Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Israel on Wednesday in a show of support after the US firm announced earlier this week it would no longer allow its products to be supplied to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories.

Shaked said that Israeli authorities were working to enlist the help of Jewish and evangelical communities, as well as pro-Israel groups in the US, to boycott the ice cream manufacturer “until they change their despicable decision.”

“Ben & Jerry’s International chose to suck up to terrorist and antisemitic organizations instead of being faithful to its Israeli licensee,” she said at the factory located in Be’er Tuvia, a southern community near the city of Kiryat Malakhi.

Shaked said Israel will do everything it can in the “legal, consumer and diplomatic arenas” against the US producer in order to get it to backtrack on its decision.

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.

At the factory, Shaked urged Israelis to continue to buy the locally produced Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, alongside the need to “fight the US Ben & Jerry’s.”

“We have a year and a half to change this antisemitic decision,” she said.

On Tuesday, Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, sent letters to the governors of the 35 US states that have enacted legislation against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, requesting that they sanction Ben & Jerry’s over its decision.

“I ask that you consider speaking out against the company’s decision, and taking any other relevant steps, including in relations to your state laws and the commercial dealings between Ben and Jerry’s and your state,” read the letter from Erdan, who said he coordinated the move with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

The states that have passed anti-BDS legislation include Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, California, Maryland and Texas — but not Vermont, where Ben & Jerry’s is headquartered.

At a US State Department press briefing on Tuesday, spokesman Ned Price said he does not have “a reaction to offer regarding the actions of a private company” when asked about the situation, but reiterated that White House officials “firmly reject the BDS movement, which unfairly singles out Israel.”

Meanwhile, a growing number of kosher supermarkets in the US and around the world announced that they would stop stocking Ben & Jerry’s products following the decision.

Morton Williams, a chain of 16 supermarkets in the New York City area, said it would reduce the number of Ben & Jerry’s products it sells by 70%, stop promoting them in its weekly circulars and display them in hard-to-find locations in its stores.

Seasons, which has six stores in and around New York, said it would remove all Ben & Jerry’s products from its shops, stating: “We stand with Israel. Always.”

In Teaneck, New Jersey, home to a significant Jewish population, both Cedar Market and Glatt Express, as well as Grand & Essex in neighboring Bergenfield, New Jersey, said they would cease selling the ice cream.

Kosher Kingdom, located in Melbourne, Australia, said it would also stop selling Ben & Jerry’s and unload its remaining stock at a discount.

On Wednesday, the Sydney-based Kosher Authority announced that it was delisting Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from its roster of approved products in protest of the settlement boycott.

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