Prime Minister Naftali Bennett harshly rebuked Tuesday Ben & Jerry's decision to halt sales in Israeli settlements in a phone call with Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, the company that owns the ice cream maker.
Bennett told Jope that he "gravely views" Ben & Jerry's decision, adding that Israel "will act aggressively against any type of boycott against its citizens."
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The iconic Vermont-based ice cream company announced on Monday that it would no longer sell ice cream in West Bank settlements, but would continue to sell in the rest of Israel.
Also on Tuesday, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations Gilad Erdan urged 35 U.S. governors, who head states with laws forbidding anti-Israel boycotts, to take legal action against Ben & Jerry’s.
“Ben & Jerry’s announced policy seems to … trigger potential legal ramifications, based on laws legislated by over 35 States, including your state, meant to counter these types of hate driven boycotts,” Erdan wrote in a letter to the governors.
“We view this decision very severely as it is the de-facto adoption of antisemitic practices and advancement of the delegitimization of the Jewish state and the dehumanization of the Jewish people,” he noted in his letter. “I believe … that rapid and determined action must be taken to counter such discriminatory and antisemitic actions,” he averred.
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“As a response to the policy change announced by Airbnb in 2018, several lawsuits were filed against the company both in Israel and in the United States,” he recalled. “These combined efforts were successful in getting Airbnb to reverse its discriminatory policy within a short period of time.”
The founders of Ben & Jerry’s, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, are both Jewish.