Sep 21, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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When the Jews broke their mournful fast of Tisha B’Av on Monday, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company responded by aligning with the haters of Zion by boycotting the Biblical heartland. Just four days later, B&J’s parent company, Unilever, dropped 6% overnight, losing $9 billion in market value, seemingly bringing about the Biblical cause and effect brought on by cursing Israel.

Ben and Jerry: Hating the Biblical heartland 

The story began last Monday when Ben and Jerry’s, a Vermont-based multinational ice cream company, announced on its website that it would no longer be selling its products in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

Graph of Unilever share price (courtesy: Google screenshot)

The company’s intention was to stop sales in Judea, Samaria, and sections of Jerusalem, all of which were illegally occupied by Jordan before Israel conquered them in the defensive Six-Day War in 1967. B&J plans on making the boycott permanent when its contract expires in December 2022 with the local Israeli franchise which has operated in the Jewish state for close to 35 years.

Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever but is run by an independent board. It should be noted that Ben & Jerry’s Independent Board of Directors wanted to boycott Israel in its entirety, but was stopped from doing so by the ice-cream maker’s CEO and the British-based parent company Unilever which has attempted to distance itself from the board’s subsequent decision to join the BDS movement.

Unilever drops $9 billion

Coincidentally (or not), B&J’s parent company, Unilever, released a report last week claiming increased sales and earnings for the second quarter. Unfortunately, this was offset by a significant increase in commodity costs that will hurt its annual profit margins. Profit after tax dropped five percent to $3.68 billion in the first six months of the year compared with the corresponding period in 2020. In the wake of the bad news, Unilever shares dropped 6% overnight on Thursday, shedding over $9 billion in market value. Unilever announced that a rise in the prices of their consumer products is expected.

Abraham and Sara host an ice cream party

Rabbi Daniel Rosenstein, the Executive Director of the Hebron Fund, noted that the Unilever loss may certainly have been a case of divine retribution.

“Jews do not believe in coincidences,” Rabbi Rosenstein said.  I am not going to presume to know what God’s intentions are but it certainly seems that He is sending a message. This is a message we have seen time and time again throughout history, that crime never pays, especially when it is the crime of cursing Israel or trying to separate between Mother Sarah and Father Abraham from their children and grandchildren.”

The Hebron Fund is responding by reinforcing the message B&J should have gotten from the Bible. 

“Rather than give in to anger and hate, we are hosting an ice cream party in Hebron, by the matriarchs and patriarchs, and serving ice cream (not Ben and Jerry’s) to IDF soldiers and Hebron kids,” Rabbi Rosenstein. 

The Hebron Fund also organized an online petition that underscores the insidious nature of the B&J boycott which targets the regions of Israel that figure most prominently in the Bible. 

“BDS thinks they can detach the Biblical heartland from the Jewish people. We’re fighting back against BDS and Ben & Jerry’s USA by collecting signatures from people who want to show their SUPPORT for Israel,” the petition reads. The petition will be presented to Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Gilad Erdan, which he can deliver to the 35 governors of states with anti-BDS legislation. 

Missing the Tisha B’Av message

Rabbi Shlomo Katz, a spiritual leader and popular religious musician, suggested that the hot-button issue of the B&J boycott was not as significant as the media suggested. 

“There is no doubt that people, companies, and governments that curse Israel have seen curses come upon them,” Rabbi Katz said. “But I think what is happening here is a distraction. Ben and Jerry’s is, after all, just a brand of ice cream.”

“They came out with their statement the day after Jews came out of the three-week period of mourning for the Temples, the day after Tisha B’Av. It is unbelievable that the day after Tisha B’Av, people are talking about not being able to have a certain brand of ice cream. What we should have taken away from Tisha B’Av was that even people like Obama, Biden, Netanyahu, and Bennett are just pawns in Hashem’s hands. Even more so this company.”

“After Tisha B’Av, we should be crying that we still don’t have a house for God to dwell in. People who hate Israel think they are important, that they are doing important things. They may be choosing if they get a blessing or curse but after Tisha B’Av, who cares what they choose for themselves?”

Based in London, Unilever’s products are available in around 190 countries. Unilever products include food, condiments, ice cream, wellbeing vitamins, minerals and supplements, tea, coffee, breakfast cereal, cleaning agents, water and air purifiers, pet food, toothpaste, beauty products, and personal care. Unilever is the largest producer of soap in the world.

Unilever has four factories and 2,000 employees in Israel.