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Friday, July 23, 2021 

Ice cream without flavor, because politics took precedence over customers

Ben & Jerry's ice cream manufacturer in the US has angered Israelis again, because they decided to side with the BDS movement and declare Judea/Samaria "occupied territory":
Less than 24 hours after receiving the news that Ben & Jerry's announced they would not allow their ice cream to be sold in Judea & Samaria, what they called "occupied Palestinian territory," there has been a grassroots backlash against this company.

Both the Israeli TV and social media channels are reporting that Israelis are boycotting the ice cream giant's products. The trending images on Israeli social media are photographs of cartons of Ben & Jerry's in trash cans, thrown out by protesting Israelis.

"You boycott us. We boycott you," is the new Israeli motto
.

This ice cream company achieved something that Israelis thought impossible following the recent fractious national election. Ben and Jerry succeeded in uniting Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu with his political rivals Naftali Bennett of Yamina and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid in a coalition against this ice cream brand.

Following the announcement that they would remove their products from the territories, Netanyahu tweeted, "Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy."
The backlash includes an Australian kashrut management delisting their products, and several other sources Down Under decided to avoid B&J's output as well. It certainly looks like this time, the Israel-bashing management really bought themselves trouble and a pickle. Of course, I myself have rarely tried their products, and there's far better brands out there anyway. Most offensive about this is that it gives the impression such businesses are run by people desensitized to violence and terrorism, and that's not healthy for business at all.

Through all this, one good thing is that Unilever, which owns the company, said they were committed to Israel:
Unilever's chief executive on Thursday said the company was "fully committed" to Israel, days after coming under Israeli pressure over a decision by its subsidiary Ben & Jerry's to end ice cream sales in the Palestinian territories.

[...] "I think if there's one message I want to underscore ... it's that Unilever remains fully committed to our business in Israel," CEO Alan Jope told investors during an earnings call.

He said the group had invested 1 billion shekels ($306 million) in Israel over the past decade and was invested in its startup culture and social programs.

"This was a decision taken by Ben & Jerry's and its independent board ... and we always recognize the importance of that agreement," he said.
In some cases, it can pay to give companies under your ownership free reign to make their decisions. But here, it's for the worse, and the B&J management will have to be reined in if they want to avoid causing more alienation they presumably want to avoid. Or maybe they should just sell it off and then see how the company fares on its own, now that it's becoming viewed as toxically political.

Update: Susanna Levin, a graphics designer who'd worked at B&J for 2 decades, has resigned her job there, and made a point that anti-Zionism is the same as anti-semitism.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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