Israeli leaders have raged against the popular frozen candy brand and its business owner over the July 19 decision to sever ties with its Israeli manufacturer and distributor and end sales on the Green Line from 2023, calling it anti-Semitic and a form of terrorism.
A cable sent to Israeli missions in North America and Europe calls on diplomats to work with Jewish, pro-Israel and evangelical groups to instigate protests outside Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever offices, Walla News reported on Tuesday.
Diplomats have also been asked to call for demonstrations of public protest against Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s, such as statements, editorials or direct contact with “key business figures.” The protests would then be amplified by diplomats, in order to intensify the pressure on companies to reverse the decision.
“We must take advantage of the remaining 18 months until the entry into force of the decision to modify it,” said the cable, according to the report, which was also broadcast by the American news site Axios. “The objective is to activate the pressure of consumers, the press, social and political networks in the long term on the multinational Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s in order to lead to a dialogue with the company.
According to Walla, diplomats have also been encouraged to pressure state officials in the United States to use controversial laws requiring them to withdraw from companies boycotting Israel.
Officials in Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Illinois have announced they are already debating whether to part ways with Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s.
In this March 23, 2010 file photo, ice cream moves along the production line at Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream, in Waterbury, Vt. (AP Photo / Toby Talbot, File)
Jewish groups and others have criticized companies for the move since it was announced on July 19. Many pro-Israel Jews in the United States have called for a boycott of the company, and a number of kosher markets have announced plans to stop stocking Ben. & Jerry’s products.
The cable called on diplomats to use talking points that refer to the decision to boycott the settlements as a surrender to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, calling BDS “anti-Semitic.”
One talking point called the move “hypocritical, in violation of corporate responsibility values,” and said it “stinks of the culture of extreme cancellation.”
The Foreign Ministry has largely taken the initiative to oppose the decision of the ice cream giant. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid equated Ben & Jerry’s decision with anti-Semitism, and the government has consistently linked this decision to the BDS movement. The Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which was previously responsible for combating BDS abroad, was dissolved by the government earlier this month and is in the process of being absorbed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, on July 20 sent letters to the governors of the 35 American states that have enacted legislation against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, asking them to sanction Ben & Jerry’s for his recent decision to stop sales in West Bank settlements.
“I ask that you consider denouncing the company’s decision and taking any other relevant action, including with respect to the laws of your state and the commercial relationship between Ben and Jerry’s and your state,” it read. in the letter from Erdan, who said he coordinated the move with Lapid.
A foreign ministry source told The Times of Israel after the move that he feared a domino effect.
“Each step, each capitulation certainly invites another after. It’s not going to stop. There is pressure all the time. I can’t say it’s the start of a wave. It is a company that faced intense pressure and made the decision it took, ”he said. But “it is not unreasonable to assume that if there is success it will encourage them.” “
On Tuesday, Unilever sought to distance itself from Ben & Jerry’s decision, sending a letter to Jewish groups saying the company “completely rejects and unequivocally repudiates any form of discrimination or intolerance.” Anti-Semitism has no place in any society. We have never expressed support for the BDS movement and have no intention of changing this position.
Ben & Jerry’s boycott policy will not take effect until its agreement with the local manufacturing and distribution licensee expires at the end of 2022. Unilever has said it will continue to sell in Israel after that, but brand new. fired would be vulnerable to civil lawsuits if he did not distribute to Israelis in the territories.