Gilad Erdan
Gilad Erdan צילום: שחר עזרן

Israel is urging US states to crackdown on ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s, after the company announced it will boycott Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Following Ben & Jerry’s declaration that it will no longer sell its products beyond Israel’s pre-1967 Green Line, Israeli Ambassador to the US and the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, penned a letter to the governors of all 35 US states which have passed so-called “anti-BDS laws” – that is, legislation imposing sanctions on companies which support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which calls for boycotting Israel and Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.

In his letter Monday, Erdan called the Ben & Jerry’s boycott, ‘antisemitic’, saying it delegitimized and dehumanized the Jewish people.

“Ben & Jerry’s announced their intention to boycott hundreds of thousands of citizens living in Judea and Samaria. We view this decision very severely as it is the de-facto adoption of antisemitic practices and advancement of the de-legitimization of the Jewish state and the dehumanization of the Jewish people.”

Erdan called on the governors to activate their states’ respective anti-BDS laws against Ben & Jerry’s.

“In addition to the great moral difficulties that derive from such a boycott, Ben & Jerry’s announced policy seems to also trigger potential legal ramifications, based on laws legislated by over 35 States, including your state, meant to counter these types of hate driven boycotts.”

The ambassador cited the lawsuits and steps by several US states against Airbnb after the company announced a boycott on Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria in 2018.

“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, and several states spoke out and even acted to enforce their laws against the company.”

These combined efforts were successful in getting Airbnb to reverse its discriminatory policy within a short period of time. I ask that you consider speaking out against the company's decision, and taking any other relevant steps, including in relation to your state laws and the commercial dealings between Ben & Jerry’s and your state.”

On Monday, Ben & Jerry’s issued a statement saying that it will no longer sell its products in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

"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 statement 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.”