‘I’m not an anti-Semite,’ says Ben & Jerry’s board chairman amid boycott controversy – .

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‘I’m not an anti-Semite,’ says Ben & Jerry’s board chairman amid boycott controversy – .


JTA – 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.

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.”

“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 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. “

View of the Ben & Jerry’s outlet store in Yavne, July 20, 2021 (Flash90)

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.

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