In a poignant episode of instant payback, or what the Biblically minded call possible divine retribution. The story began when Ben and Jerry’s, a Vermont-based multinational ice cream company, announced that it would no longer be selling its products in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory”.
“Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement,” the company announced on its website on Monday. In fact, the Ben & Jerry Board wanted to boycott Israel entirely but was stopped from doing so by Unilever. Avi Zinger, CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Israel, the franchisee in Israel since 1987, said he was unwilling to refuse to sell the ice cream to Israeli citizens in settlements and was legally prevented from doing so. In consequence, the company plans not to renew the franchise in 2022. The decision may also violate anti-boycott of Israel laws in place in many US states.
Ayman Odeh, an MK for the Joint Arab List, was thrilled with the B&J decision.
“My diet was going great until now,” he tweeted on Monday, with a photo of him gleefully digging a spoon into a pint of B&J’s Cone Sweet Cone flavor.
It seems the ice cream didn’t agree with him because on Wednesday, Odeh was rushed to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa after experiencing pain due to kidney stones. His spokesman said that Odeh “is currently undergoing the necessary tests while under sedation.”
Kidney stones seems to be an ailment inherent to Arab members of Knesset. Two weeks ago, Ahmad Tibi underwent an emergency operation due to kidney stones and Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas was hospitalized for the same condition in April.
הדיאטה הלכה טוב עד עכשיו pic.twitter.com/EzyEgyHFDw
— Ayman Odeh (@AyOdeh) July 19, 2021
The announcement angered many in the Israeli government. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett slammed the decision.
“Ben & Jerry’s decided to brand itself as anti-Israeli ice cream,” Bennett said. “This is a moral mistake and I believe it will turn out to be a business mistake as well. Boycotting Israel — a democracy surrounded by islands of terrorism — reflects how they have completely lost their way. The boycott does not work and never will; we will fight it with all our might.”
Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked visited the B&J factory in Be’er Tuvia on Wednesday, posting a tweet that said, “The management of Ben and Jerry’s chose to lick the boots of terrorist and anti-Semitic organizations.We have a year and a half to change that decision. Continue to buy Ben and Jerry’s.”
It should be noted that the company’s eponymous founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, are both Jewish.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was less placid, labeling the decision by the ice cream company as “anti-Jewish” and ”anti-Israel.” He called on the US states that have passed anti-Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) legislation to take legal action against the company.
Ben & Jerry’s decision represents shameful surrender to antisemitism, to BDS and to all that is wrong with the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discourse.
We will not be silent.
— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid🟠 (@yairlapid) July 19, 2021
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN and US Gilad Erdan sent letters to thegoernors of the 35 states that have anti-BDS legislation to take action against the company.
“While Arab countries lift the boycott of Israel, it is inconceivable that American companies with radical agendas will go against US policy and work against normalization and peace,” Erdan said.