Granted, every nation has its share of internal problems, big and small, but now and again an insurmountable issue of the greatest magnitude slaps a country so hard even its future existence is called into question. All eyes are on Israel as it faces the worst crisis of its history. Can they pull through this one or are they about to crash and burn harder than the Roman Empire?
Israelis like their ice cream and Ben & Jerry’s is at the top of their list as the best stuff around. The U.S.-based company has made a killing mixing up famous recipes in their Jerusalem facility, but they’ve outgrown their britches and feel they’ve earned a say in Israeli politics. And as we are all too well aware, ice cream and politics never mix.
The stance Ben & Jerry’s has taken could easily be brushed away as insignificant but the Israeli government doesn’t see it this way. They’re butt-hurt by the ice cream company saying they will no longer sell their products in any Israeli-occupied territory.
The decision even prompted a response from Israels’ prime minister Naftali Bennet who vowed to “aggressively” retaliate against Ben & Jerry’s. Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Gilad Erdan, ran with the ball by sending letters to 35 state governors asking them to punish the ice cream maker accordingly. Anti-boycott laws were stated as the premise.
The letter urged the governors to condemn Ben & Jerry’s “and to take any other relevant steps, including in relation to your state laws and the commercial dealings between Ben & Jerry’s and your state.”
Pushing the situation way over the edge, Erdan wrote how his country sees Ben & Jerry’s decision as “the de-facto adoption of anti-Semitic practices and advancement of the de-legitimization of the Jewish state and the dehumanization of the Jewish people.”
But he was just getting wound up at that point. “As Arab nations cancel their decades-long boycott of the Jewish state and sign peace agreements with Israel, and cultural and economic cooperation in our region is growing, American companies with radical ideological agendas cannot be allowed to go against the policy of the United States and act against normalization and peace.”
“Moreover, the past has proven that the citizens of Israel are never the only ones who suffer from such boycotts as these significantly harm Palestinians as well.” Palestinians like their ice cream also.
“Rapid and determined action must be taken to counter such discriminatory and antisemitic actions,” the letter continued. “We must stand united and send an unequivocal message that this will not be tolerated.”
Israel fears that Ben & Jerry’s actions may prompt other U.S. companies to take similar stances and Lord help them should there be a Twinkie shortage.
Ben & Jerry’s, known for their outspoken activism, said that selling their product in the Israeli-occupied West Bank or in east Jerusalem is “inconsistent with our values.”
Bennett went as far as to personally call the chief executive of Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, Alan Jope. He told Jope that he views the boycott as a “clearly anti-Israel step” that would result in “serious consequences, legal and otherwise.” Israel “will act aggressively against all boycott actions directed against its citizens.” It’s ice cream, dude…
To appease the prime minister, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. does not endorse the boycott because it “unfairly singles out” just one country.
It’s understandable how the Israelis are a bit testy these days with half of the world supporting them and the other half siding with Palestine. So even though it was just ice cream that started this entire fiasco, what happens if more companies follow suit? Not only in the U.S. but elsewhere as well? Israel could easily end up in a crucial bind without semi-conductors and other critical items.
The conclusion is that Ben & Jerry’s would be better off by keeping their opinion to themselves instead of creating an international incident that benefits no one. But what’s done is done and truth be known, the very Palestinians they love so much are the ones who’ll have to start shopping for a new inferior brand of ice cream since the occupied territory where Ben & Jerry’s pulled their ice cream from just happens to be where they live. Lose/Lose.