Ben & Jerry’s Chairman of the Board: “I’m not an anti-Semite”

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Ben & Jerry’s Chairman of the Board: “I’m not an anti-Semite”


A week after Ben & Jerry’s announced it would stop selling ice cream in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the chairman of the company’s board of directors for the first time publicly rejected the suggestion that the move was anti-Semitic And the brand’s parent company, Unilever, has disowned the movement to boycott Israel. The disallowance comes as Unilever faces financial penalties in states with anti-boycott laws.

These are two of the developments emerging in the continuing fallout from Ben & Jerry’s boycott of Israeli settlements. Here’s a look at what happened over the past two days:

Ben & Jerry’s Chairman of the Board is proud of the company for taking a stand

On Tuesday, Anuradha Mittal, chairman of the board of Ben & Jerry’s, tweeted her first comments on the boycott since its announcement last week. She upheld the ruling and denied being anti-Semitic following Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s statement that the boycott is a “shameful surrender to anti-Semitism.”

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if(window.location.pathname.indexOf(« 656089 ») != -1){document.getElementsByClassName(« divConnatix »)[0].style.display = »none »;}else if(window.location.pathname.indexOf(« /israel-news/ ») != -1){ document.getElementsByClassName(« divConnatix »)[0].style.display = »aucun » ; var script = document.createElement(‘script’); script.src= »https://player.anyclip.com/anyclip-widget/lre-widget/prod/v1/src/lre.js » ; script.setAttribute(‘pubname’,’jpostcom’); script.setAttribute(‘widgetname’,’0011r00001lcD1i_12258′); document.getElementsByClassName(‘divAnyClip’)[0].appendChild(script);}“I’m proud of @benandjerrys for taking a stand to end the sale of its ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territory,” she tweeted, using the same West Bank term used in the ad. “This action is not anti-Semitic. I am not an anti-Semite. The vile hatred that was thrown at me does [not] intimidate me. Work for peace – not hate! (Mittal did not detail the “vile hatred” she received, although critics of the decision attacked her on social media.)

Mittal’s post came days after an NBC News report that its board of directors was not satisfied with the text of the statement released by Unilever announcing the boycott. Ben & Jerry’s “would remain in Israel under a different arrangement,” he said. This clause did not appear in the advertisement drafted by the council.

Mittal has not said that Ben & Jerry’s should withdraw entirely from Israel, and the board has not expressed that position publicly. But on Twitter, Mittal has previously backed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel known as BDS.

“The disaster continues # Nakba70 years later, the #palestine bleeds Boycott Divest Sanctions #israel,” she wrote in 2018.

On Tuesday, she also tweeted a statement of support from liberal Jewish groups and quoted a passage from Unilever’s statement stressing “a clear distinction between the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories it occupies militarily.”

Unilever disowns BDS in letters to Jewish groups

Unilever also points out that the boycott of the settlements is not the same as that of BDS. The company’s statement, made in nearly identical letters sent to Jewish organizations on Tuesday, comes as a handful of states consider divesting Unilever funds under laws prohibiting states from doing business with companies boycotting Israel.

The letters say Unilever is committed to doing business with Israel, where it employs 2,000 people and has invested nearly $ 296 million in the country’s market.

“We look forward to investing in our business in Israel in the future,” say the letters, which were sent to the Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, both of which had criticized Ben & Jerry’s West. withdrawal from the bank. “We have never expressed support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement and have no intention of changing that position. “

The ADL and the Conference of Presidents said they appreciated the letter but reiterated their previous criticisms. The latter said that “Unilever’s response does not go far enough” and encouraged the company to try to override the decision of the board of directors of Ben & Jerry’s, although an internal agreement between Unilever and the board Ben & Jerry’s directors seem to make this impossible. The coordinating group also praised states investigating whether the boycott violates anti-BDS laws.

The conference of presidents said it opposed Ben & Jerry’s decision, “because boycotts of Israel are discriminatory.” While the announcement and letter make it clear that the boycott only applies to the West Bank, which Israel controls but has not annexed, Conference of Presidents CEO William Daroff told JTA that the boycott would force the closure of the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Israel, and that the group feels “obligated to speak out when Jewish-owned businesses are singled out.” Daroff added, “Ben & Jerry’s made a political decision that sets Israelis apart from ‘contested’ territory.

The ADL also thanked Unilever for its statement against BDS, but said: “While the ADL is a strong supporter of the two-state solution, we believe it is wrong for a company to distinguish Israel by refusing to sell its products to Israelis and Palestinians. living in the West Bank.

New York’s Ben & Jerry’s store opposes boycott, plans to donate 10% of profits to Israel

A Jewish owner of a Ben & Jerry’s franchise on the Upper West Side of Manhattan joined a group of local store owners to protest the boycott of the West Bank. On Monday, Joel Gasman posted on Facebook that “we are feeling the recent actions of [Ben & Jerry’s] head office do not reflect our personal opinions.

Gasman, whose store is located in a heavily Jewish neighborhood, has pledged to donate 10% of his profits to “the educational causes of the State of Israel.” He did not specify which ones.

“We are saddened by the impact this has had on our business and the Jewish community,” he wrote. “We are proud Jews, Americans, and active supporters of the Jewish community in New York City and the State of Israel. “

Gasman told JTA in an email, “We have lost catering jobs for corporate offices, schools and synagogues over the past week due to Ben and Jerry’s statement.

Several supermarket owners in New York have pledged to limit or stop the sale of Ben & Jerry’s following the announcement. The organization that certifies Ben & Jerry’s as kosher, Kof-K, also said in a statement that it is in communication with Israel and a settlement coordination group “to determine the most effective way to respond,” but will not revoke its certification of ice cream – a move that some advocates of Israel have called for – according to Yeshiva World News, an Orthodox publication.

Progressive Israel supporters rally to support Ben & Jerry’s as Israeli government steps up opposition

The leaders of Israel, as well as the leaders of the former American Jewish organizations, strongly opposed the boycott. On Tuesday, Axios reported that Israel has set up a task force to counter the boycott of Ben & Jerry’s and encouraged its diplomats to launch a campaign to lobby against the decision by staging protests outside Ben & Jerry’s offices and from Unilever.

At the same time, a growing chorus of progressive Jews in Israel and America is praising the boycott.

On Tuesday, a coalition of progressive Israelis ran a full-page ad in Haaretz, a left-wing newspaper, thanking Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the Jewish founders of the eponymous ice cream company. The couple have not been involved in the company’s operations since 2000 and have not commented on the West Bank decision.

A series of Jewish and Arab public figures signed the announcement. Some of the Jewish signatories are Zehava Galon, the former leader of the left-wing Meretz party; Naomi Chazan, former Meretz lawmaker and Knesset Deputy Speaker; Dana Olmert, daughter of former Israeli centrist Prime Minister Ehud Olmert; Michael Sfard, a prominent Israeli human rights lawyer; and Ohad Naharin, the famous Israeli choreographer.

“We are writing to let you know that in Israel there are other opinions as well,” the advertisement reads. “Thank you for your commitment to the human rights of Palestinians. “

The announcement follows a letter signed by seven left-wing American Jewish groups, including J Street, the New Israel Fund and the liberal rabbinical organization T’ruah urging governors not to penalize Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever for boycotting colonies.

“Using all the force and power of the government to penalize those who exercise their rights in opposition to Israeli policies only generates more attention and sympathy for boycotts, and presents Israel’s support as being in opposition to Israeli policies. fundamental freedoms in the minds of many Americans, ”the letter said. “It is a strategic disaster for those, like us, who are trying to maintain and develop a healthy US-Israel relationship. ”

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