Ben & Jerry's: The "Anti-Israel Ice Cream"

Yet again answering the question, “How will this affect the Jews?”:

Ben & Jerry’s said it informed its licensee in Israel that its agreement will not be renewed when it expires at the end of 2022. After then, Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the Palestinian territories. The company’s ice cream will, however, continue to be sold in Israel, “through a different arrangement,” Ben & Jerry’s said, noting it will update customers on those details in the future.

Israeli politicians blasted the decision by the ice cream brand. The country’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, said that Ben & Jerry’s has decided to brand itself as the"anti-Israel ice cream."

Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s minister of interior, tweeted her disdain for Ben & Jerry’s decision Monday.

“Your ice cream is not in line with our taste,” she said. “We will manage without you.”

I don’t understand why Palestinians are being punished.

Yeah, I don’t get it either. It’s the Palestinians who are missing out on the yums.

Had they refused to sell in Israel, that would have made sense.

I’ve assumed it’s the territories occupied by Israel. They’ll sell the ice cream in non-occupied Palestinian land.

Maybe the idea is to not sell to Israeli settlers?

ETA: Ninja’d.

I searched to see if this was going to be the case but I can’t seem to find anything that says it was ever sold in Palestinian settlements.

The linked article says exactly this in the very first sentence.

Ben & Jerry’s will no longer sell ice cream in occupied Palestinian territories, saying it’s inconsistent with the values of the socially conscious brand.

As far as I can see, there are two issues here:

  1. First of all, the term “occupied Palestinian territories” can mean different things to different people, from the “Regions C” of the Oslo Accords to the entirety of Israel from the Jordan to the sea. If they’d said that they were not going to be selling their products in Israeli settlements beyond the Green Line, that would be one thing, but instead, they went for the vaguest term possible. That’s not a policy, that’s pandering.

  2. Second of all, it’s simply not practical. The same retailers operate in Israel proper and in the Territories, so if they sell products to a chain of supermarkets, the company have no control over where they’ll be sold. Not to mention that any retailer who agrees not to sell in the West Bank will face a shitstorm of protests from the Israeli right - so much so that there’s absolutely no way any of them will agree to B&J’s demand. So there’s no way it’s going to happen. The only options are that either this whole furor will die down and things will continue as usual, or that Ben & Jerry’s will effectively be boycotting Israel as a whole, and I don’t thing they’ll want to face the heat they’ll get for the latter back in the States.

I think the only thing we know for sure is that Häagen-Dazs is going to make a killing in Israel.

This idea of differentiating “occupied Palestinian territories” from regular Israeli towns is nothing new, or uniquely original to Ben & Jerry’s. For example, in 2015 the European Union issued a set of guidelines instructing member states how to differentiate between products produced within Israel’s 1967 borders and products made in the occupied Palestinian territories. Meaning that goods and products made in Israeli settlements that (according to the EU) are not in Israel cannot be labelled “Made in Israel.”

That said, you are right, in this case it is not like Ben and Jerry’s were shipping ice cream to individual branches of supermarkets and convenience stores.

Sounds like performative protest theatrics by B&J (Unilever). And so it goes.

I’ve never eaten much B&J - more of a Haagen Daaz and Breyers man myself. I’ve admired their occasional stands on some issues and probably have some alignment in re Israel/Palestine…but this just strikes me as a provocatively and monumentally stupid business decision.

Yep - while I’m against the settlements, this will accomplish exactly two things:

  1. win B&J brownie points with a certain crowd
  2. give the Right wing in Israel ammunition for the lines that play best with moderate Israelis: the rest of the world doesn’t care, and won’t lift a finger to help Israel if push came to shove.

I’m not as cynical towards B&J as I would be towards other corporations pulling similar stunts because they have a long history of activism. But I DO question how effective it is to hand the Israeli Right their best piece of propaganda since Hamas paused with their rockets.