Israel's Bennett Slams Ben & Jerry's Boycott: There's Plenty of Ice Cream, but We Only Have One Country

Ben & Jerry's decision to halt sales in Israeli settlements shows that the company is rebranding itself as 'antisemitic ice cream,' Bennett says

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on July 19, 2021.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on July 19, 2021. Credit: GIL COHEN-MAGEN

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sharply rebuked a decision by the American ice-cream giant Ben & Jerry's to halt sales in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank on Monday, saying that the company had decided to rebrand as an "antisemitic ice cream."

"There's plenty of ice cream, but we only have one country," Bennett said.

The Vermont-based ice-cream maker announced earlier on Monday that it will discontinue its contract with its Israeli licensee following "concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners."

"Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT [Occupied Palestinian territories], we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement. We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready," it added.

Imagine if this Ben & Jerry’s truck were filled with 10 flavors of kosher-for-Passover ice creams.Credit: Wikimedia Commons / JTA Photo Archive

In his statement, Bennett called the company's decision "morally wrong," and said that he believes it will also prove to be "financially wrong." Bennett added: "The boycott of Israel – a democracy surrounded by isles of terrorism – reflects a complete loss of direction."

"The boycott isn't working and it won't work, and we will fight it with everything we've got," the prime minister said.

Ben & Jerry's, which launched in 1978, has long been associated with progressive values. But until now, Ben & Jerry’s had conspicuously refrained from weighing in on Israeli-Palestinian affairs. In June, the Ben & Jerry's social media accounts were bombarded with criticism for licensing a factory in Israel which provides Israeli settlements with products, and the accounts had remained silent until today.

In 1988, the company opened its first Israeli store on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street. One year later, it opened a factory in Yavneh – which, surprisingly, was the company’s first production plant outside the United States. In 2009, the factory moved to Be’er Tuvia.
In 2014, the company began using fair-trade ingredients at its plant here, just as it does in the United States, and four years ago, it began making vegan ice cream.

The Israeli Ben & Jerry’s, the brand’s only independent licensee, is widely popular. It has produced special flavors for holidays, such as haroset for Passover and “mixed-up” for this spring’s national election, and last year held a Purim costume party whose prize was a six-month supply of ice cream.

In its statement, Ben & Jerry's also said: "We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year."

JTA contributed to this article.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, this month.

Lapid to Haaretz: ‘I Have Learned to Respect the Left’

“Dubi,” whose full name is secret in keeping with instructions from the Mossad.

The Mossad’s Fateful 48 Hours Before the Yom Kippur War

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer