The pushback to Ben and Jerry's refusal to sell ice cream to Jews whose address they do not like is a hopeful sign for the pro-Israel camp. It prompted the company's founders to crawl out of their luxurious retirement to throw their weight behind the boycott.
Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield publicly patted their namesake company on the back in a New York Times op-ed. They praised their former company for taking a stand for progressive values and used the incorrrect term "illegal occupation" instead of "disputed territory" in their proclamation of pride for the boycott.
They use the Orwellian tactics that ultra-Left progressives have turned into an art form. The whole episode is a case study of the new threat that every freedom-loving person on the planet should fight.
First, this latest op-ed uses old ploy of divide and conquer. Ben & Jerry's is not rejecting Israel, they say, only the Jews in Judea and Samaria, those living in what they call "Occupied Palestinian Territory". (OPT). They are saying to Israelis in the "green line", we are not boycotting you, just those nasty Jews up in the hills. In this way, they try to exploit the old divisions within Israeli society between the "Peace Camp" and the "Nationalist" camp. They hope to turn Israeli citizens against each other.
Retailers outside of Israel are also pushing back against this screed. Avi Kaner, Co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarkets announced his chain will not carry Ben & Jerry's as long as this "despicable boycott" remains. Mr. Kaner reports that his New York customers support this courageous move. Susannah Levin, Ben and Jerry's' graphic designer for 21 years quit working for them. She explained that the boycott is part of a "despicable trend" of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Her courage is inspiring. Some states in the United States are activating their anti-boycott legislation against Ben and Jerry's and the parent company Unilever. This is probably what prompted the company's founders to step up to the plate in defense of the move.
Second, this boycott uses the subterfuge of hiding behind the fact that the original founders of the company are born Jewish. How can we be anti-Semites? Our roots are Jewish. The answer to this should be a big "so what". We do not care about your ethnicity. We care about your actions. If you intentionally hurt Jewish people, no matter where they live, you are not pro-Jewish. Your last name is irrelevant.
Third, these corporate crusaders count on public amnesia and the ever-changing news cycle. The boycott is not to take effect for another year and a half. By then, Ben & Jerry's hopes all consumers will forget about this kerfuffle and just continue buying Unilever products as usual.
The Israeli response to this loathsome act has been correct. We are now in the period of the 7 weeks of comfort after the Fast of Av, and most of us in Israel are displaying the Jewish unity and pride that will guarantee our future. As Benjamin Franklin noted after the signing of the American Declaration of Independence "Gentlemen, we must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."
Indeed, the key to national independence is unity. That is why the first words of the United States Constitution are "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect union…" America is now drowning in discord. Its union is fraying. The Ben & Jerry's boycott and the proclamations of its founders are disturbing symptoms of this breakdown. Orna Barbivai, the Israeli Minister of the Economy, understands the need to pull together. She is to be commended for her video showing her throwing a container of Ben & Jerry's ice cream in the trash.
Ben & Jerry's newest ban presents us with a mild test of our unity and fellowship. Ice cream is not a life or death product. Most of us don't need the extra fat and sugar. Yet, Ben & Jerry's boycott creates a dangerous precedent. This time around, the Jews of Judea and Samaria will be denied a certain brand of ice cream. Tomorrow it may be a medical equipment company that feels the need to virtue signal at the expense of "those nasty settlers". Or it may be a pharmaceutical company that refuses to sell cancer treatments to Jews over the "green line".
This economic warfare continues the Israel bashing that gushed forth in the wake of operation "Guardian of the Walls".
We need to pressure Unilever until it divests itself of Ben and Jerry's. This will send a clear message to any other "Woke" companies with progressive values not to virtue signal at our expense or at anyone else's.
Ann P. Levin teaches legal writing to Israeli law students. She is the author of Burning But Never Consumed: The Hebrew Bible in Turbulent Times, available on Amazon.