Good Start, Ben & Jerry’s: Now Finish the Job! — Take Action

Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace NH

UPDATE: The international Work Group of the Central CT Democratic Socialists of America is holding a “Eat an Ice Cream for Palestine” on Sat. Oct 9 at 1 p.m. starting at the Ben and Jerrys store in New Haven. The store is at 159 Temple St., New Haven. It’s near the New Haven Green. We’ll take photos of ourselves eating or holding B&J ice creams followed by a walk to the New Haven Green and an informal discussion about Palestine. – Stanley Heller, DSA Int Work Group member.

On July 19, 2021, Ben & Jerry’s (B&J) announced that it is inconsistent with their values to sell their ice cream in the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). They will not renew their license agreement with their Israeli licensee when it expires at the end of 2022.

We at Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven and the New Haven Mending Minyan Havurah join with so many Vermonters in lauding this long-overdue decision by B&J’s, in particular because it was taken as part of B&J’s long-time advocacy for human rights and economic and social justice. But it does not go far enough. The very principles that drove B&J’s decision demand that the company withdraw from selling their products in both the OPT settlements as well as in the state of Israel itself. Furthermore, Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, must commit itself to ending ties with Israel for any action to be meaningful.

Here’s why:

  • Earlier this year, both the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued detailed reports which document Israel’s control over all the territory it administers as an apartheid regime. B’Tselem notes that “one organizing principle lies at the base of a wide array of Israeli policies: advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians.” HRW notes that “deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” Both reports document apartheid conditions in both the OPT and in the state of Israel itself.
  • B&J ice cream is manufactured in Israel in Be’er Tuvia (adjacent to the town of Kiryat Malachi). Kiryat Malachi is one of four Israeli localities located on the lands of the former Palestinian village of Qastina, destroyed and emptied by Israeli troops in 1948. Be’er Tuvia is in southern Naqab about 20 miles from the Erez crossing into Gaza. B&J products are transported to the illegal OPT settlements on Jewish-only roads. The factory draws water from the Jordan River system and the Mountain Aquifer in the occupied West Bank, the two highest-quality water sources in the region. At the same time, Israel severely controls and restricts West Bank Palestinian residents’ access to water from those same sources, reducing it to a level which neither meets their domestic and agricultural needs nor constitutes a fair distribution of shared water resources. The apartheid regime practiced by Israel in the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River requires that to be consistent with its social justice values, B&J terminate sales in all of that land. Israel considers its illegal settlements to be part of its state. We celebrate this first step, but it is not enough. Unilever must work to finish the job that the independent board of Ben & Jerry’s started and cut the flow of money to this apartheid state.

News Flash: Our Third District Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, has just introduced a standalone bill whose sole purpose is to gift Israel with yet another $1 billion so that it can continue to “defend” itself while it mercilessly besieges Gaza and conducts one devastating bombing after the next. This is on top of the $3.8 billion per year of our tax dollars that are already going for the same purpose.

This bill is being fast-tracked by the “Democratic” leadership and will almost certainly pass with “bipartisan” support, but we need to let Rosa know how outraged we are at this. Express it as soon as possible at (202) 225-3661.

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