Israel has long been a controversial country, not only because of its national religion and language, as well as the location, but also due to its sordid and long history. Today, in the modern era, that still remains true. In fact, few countries are as contested in the world’s eyes as Israel and its two-state leadership.
The controversy has only increased in recent months as anti-Israel groups such as Hamas, located in the West Bank, have taken action against the nation, nearly starting a full-on war. Since then, the tension between the two states has been near palpable, causing just about everyone to feel obligated to take a side.
And apparently, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company has chosen one, although it remains unclear why.
On Monday, the well-known frozen treat maker announced that they will no longer be selling their wares to those in “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Their statement on the subject read, “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”
The company added that they would continue to sell their treats to the rest of Israel, just not in the OPT, and will update the public on any new and upcoming changes to this decision.
Now, to be clear, this is essentially a boycott on the part of Israel, currently known as the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is where Palestinians believe Israel should have no claim to, as their ancestors once inhabited it.
The only problem with that is that it was never a country of Palestine.
The area in which Ben & Jerry’s refers to as the OPT was first part of the Ottoman Empire, which ended with World War 1 when Britain was given rights to the land, according to the laws of war. Then, just like the United States declared its independence from Britain, so did the nation of Jordan, which included the West Bank at the time.
However, after the Six-Day War in 1967, that land fell to Israel, again according to the nature of war. And since that time, it has remained part of Israeli territory.
Palestinians are still unhappy about the defeat from decades ago and, as such, claim that Israel has no right to the land and should not “occupy” it. But as should be clear by the land’s history, there is no occupying going on. It’s quite simply part of Israel. Period.
And that brings us to why Ben & Jerry’s decision is so problematic.
The mere reference to the area as the OPT is clearly anti-Israel, but the boycott is also illegal.
As editor of Alpha Investor and host of “The Charles Mizrahi Show,” Charles Mizrahi explains, “Israel law requires the local distributor (in this case, Ben & Jerry’s) to sell in all of Israel. The distributor doesn’t have the option to pick and choose where their product is sold.”
Additionally, Mizrahi points out that no less than 35 states in America have passed laws in recent years banning any sort of boycott in or on Israel. And as you well know, Ben & Jerry’s is sold in all of those states.
According to The Jerusalem Post, as the newly elected Prime Minister of Israel, Naftali Bennett, recently stated, there will be “severe consequences” for Ben & Jerry’s boycott.
Bennett stated that “from the perspective of the State of Israel, this is an action that has severe consequences, including legal ones, and it will take strong action against any boycott directed against its citizens.”
But it seems here at home, Ben & Jerry’s has some additional consequences, as several supermarkets and grocers have decided to no longer sell the famed ice cream in their stores.
Morton Williams Supermarket, a well-known chain located in the NYC metro area, stated that they are “taking action against” the ice cream maker as they have decided to only contribute to the “territorial dispute in Israel.”
You see, the problem is not that the owners, CEO, or whoever made this decision has an opinion on what’s going on in Israel. It’s that Ben & Jerry’s has decided to play politics as a retailer. Much like how companies like Nike, Walmart, etc., have no right taking sides in the BLM movement, neither does Ben & Jerry’s have any reason to get involved in this issue.
Their job is to sell ice cream, not insinuate how other people should live, especially in other countries.
And for that, Bennett is right: there will be consequences.