Brussels, July 23rd 2021 – The recent announcement by ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling their ice cream in the disputed territories, including East Jerusalem, introduces a new flavour of modern antisemitism, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell said in a statement on Thursday. He added: “We cannot give a free pass to those who deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination by trying to hide between murky human rights arguments and flawed social justice issues.”
Instead of promoting co-existence and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians living in the disputed territories (the final status of which is still to be determined through bilateral negotiations) the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is prolonging the conflict by promoting isolation and fueling antagonism. “This is the opposite of the Abraham Accords which seek to promote normalization and cooperation between Israel and her Arab neighbors”, he noted.
This is not the first time this Unilever-owned company has courted controversy. Ben & Jerry’s has a long tradition of supporting questionable social justice issues including the so-called Women’s March, whose leadership accused Jews of “collective responsibility for the oppression of people of colour.” Three of their top leaders were later forced to resign because of their continuous antisemitic statements.
The announcement by Ben & Jerry’s to single out Israel by divesting its business from the disputed territories comes just one month before the 20th anniversary of the United Nations’ World Conference against Racism (Durban 2001) which is widely regarded as the origin of the BDS movement and other anti-Israel initiatives that delegitimize the Jewish state. Earlier this week, Israeli President Isaac Herzog called the boycott “a new form of terror, economic terror, that tries to harm Israeli citizens and Israel’s economy” and said the BDS movement is not pursuing peace but trying to undermine Israel´s existence.
The BDS movement has been firmly rejected by both the United States and the European Union. In a European report webinar on 13th July the Vice-President of the European Parliament MEP Nicola Beer called the movement “clearly antisemitic”, a stance which is supported by the German parliament.
Nonetheless, the BDS movement reveals an important side of modern antisemitism in that Jew-hatred is no longer limited to right wing extremism but is growing among so-called progressives and social justice activists, willing to single out the only Jewish state in the world for boycotts and divestments. These are the very same forces that were galvanized at the UN conference in Durban in 2001 but later rejected by the political mainstream because of their obsession with Israel. “In the United States, 35 states have already passed anti-BDS legislation, new laws which enable the State of Israel to bring companies like Ben & Jerry’s to court for their violating actions”, Sandell explained.
He concluded: “Whereas the legal avenue remains important, we must also fight the BDS movement with historical and moral arguments related to social justice. What begins with boycotts of Jewish businesses and consumers never stops there. Ice cream should provide happy moments for Israeli and Palestinian children alike – not fuel antisemitism.”