Ben & Jerry's
Ben & Jerry's צילום: Flash90

Boycotting Israel, whether in whole or in part, by Ben & Jerry’s or anyone else, is just another obnoxious instance in the sordid history of economic warfare against the Jews. BDS is the latest rhetorical term used to obfuscate its nefarious character. Don’t be misled by the attempts to sanitize it as some sort of social awareness program. It’s an insidiously malevolent and antisemitic scheme directed at delegitimizing Israel and undermining it as a haven and homeland for Jews.

BDS seeks only to harm and serves no salutary purpose. It is not about having a state for the so-called Palestinian Arabs. That could have been accomplished years ago by merely saying yes to one of the many proposals made by Israel over the years, including those sponsored by the US. Moreover, ever since the Oslo accords, Hamas controlled Gaza and the PA controlled areas have functioned as proto-states, with their own elected governments and security forces.

BDS does not enhance the lives of those living in the PA and Hamas controlled areas. Indeed, it actually hurts them, because it results in loss of jobs by the many who are gainfully employed in enterprises that demonstrate peace and harmony is entirely possible [1].

The specter of BDS also hampers development, because it disincentives those who might otherwise invest in joint enterprises. Why take the chance that outside nefarious forces like the terrorist Iranian regime and/or its local terrorist partner Hamas, will seek to foster a boycott of the business, in furtherance of their own irrational antisemitic programs to destroy Israel?

There are also many political and legal ramifications associated with Ben & Jerry’s boycott. This includes the negative effects on its corporate parent Unilever, its franchisee in Israel and franchisees elsewhere, as well as, the Jewish people, Israel, the US and US citizens residing in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

To address this harmful practice, Congress passed the Anti-Boycott Law [2]. It covers a variety of circumstances, including those arising out of the notorious original Arab League boycott of Israel. Indeed, the law was originally enacted in response to this boycott and was designed to protect US ally Israel.

The Law declares it is the policy of the United States to oppose restrictive trade practices or boycotts fostered or imposed by any foreign country against other countries, like Israel, friendly to the US or against US citizens. The use of the terms ‘fostered’ and ‘foreign country’ is cogent. Neither of these terms is precisely defined, unlike, for example, the term ‘foreign state’ which is expressly defined in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act [3].

The legislative history of the Anti-Boycott Law supports a broad interpretation of these words to cover non-government organizations like the Arab League and, hence, the use of these expansive terms [4]. This would, therefore, include Hamas and the PA, which are proto-state organizations that purport to speak for the Arab Muslim residents of the areas they control. It also does not require the foreign source to be in control of the US party promoting the boycott. Thus, for example, the mere fact that Iran is, directly or indirectly, associated with, sponsors or otherwise supports a boycott by US parties of Israel may also be sufficient basis for invoking the provisions of the Law.

Among other things, the Law, as amended [5], prohibits refusing or requiring any other person to refuse to do business with or in a boycotted country, with any business concern organized under the laws of the boycotted country or with any national or resident of the boycotted country. This would perforce include Israeli nationals wherever they may reside. In this regard, it is important to note that the efforts reportedly made by Unilever to limit the boycott to the so-called occupied territories of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem produced only a distinction without merit.

The law expressly covers a national of the boycotted country, without reference to where the person resides and in addition covers all residents of the country. Consider, how absurd it is to argue that not boycotting a country, but only boycotting some of its people, who happen to be on the other side of a contrived green line. What’s next, prohibiting Israelis from buying ice cream in US stores? Furthermore, what if they also happen to be US citizens?

The Anti-Boycott Law also provides an express prohibition against discriminating against any United States person on the basis of race, religion, sex or national origin and well it should. A US company should not be able to treat US citizens overseas any differently from in the US. Could anyone condone a US company being permitted to discriminate against any Americans in Latin America, Europe, Asia or Africa? Imagine the outrage if some US company announced that it wouldn’t serve any non-white person who dared to move into a particular neighborhood because it believed it should be preserved as a white-only enclave? That’s real Jim Crow and fortunately it’s against the law in the US and, similarly, it’s also prohibited under the Anti-Boycott Law. This includes the approximately sixty thousand (60,000) Americans reportedly living in Judea and Samaria [6].

In essence, Jewish American residents of Efrat, like my brother Z’L and his family, my Jewish American aunt and cousins, who live in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, are targeted by this obnoxious boycott.

I’m at a loss to understand why the gospel of the board of Ben and Jerry’s requires places over the green line to be Judenrein?

How could Ben & Jerry’s and its parent Unilever, in effect, support the Hamas and PA policies barring Jews? No Jews are allowed to reside in the PA controlled areas or Hamas controlled Gaza. Jordan ethnically cleansed Judea and Samaria of Jews when it conquered the area in 1948. The Jordanians and other Arabs residing there (now calling themselves Palestinians) massacred or forcibly expelled any remaining Jewish residents and destroyed Jewish synagogues, cemeteries and schools. Anyone who has visited the Kfar Etzion Museum can appreciate the ruthless extermination campaign mounted against the Jews in Israel in 1948

To this day, PA law prohibits land sales to Jews. Those, breaking the law are subject to harsh penalty that the PA does not shirk from imposing. The PA and Hamas also spew classical antisemitism, incite and glorify terrorism and call for Israel’s destruction. This includes promoting hateful antisemitic rhetoric in the media, as well as, teaching their children in school to hate Jews.

The Palestinian National Charter describes the entire Land of Israel, including the land within the ceasefire lines of 1948, as belonging to the Arab Palestinian people and calls for liberation through armed struggle. Despite assurances that it would be amended to recognize the State of Israel, this in fact never actually occurred. The Hamas Covenant is overtly antisemitic. It compares Jews to Nazis, asserts Jews were behind World Wars I and II and finds Jewish conspiracies everywhere. It requires an armed Jihad against Israel to eliminate it. Do Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever appreciate that this is what they are actually supporting?

What about the other less than admirable aspects of Hamas and PA controlled society? It is reported [7] that domestic physical and mental abuse against women in the home is rampant; honor killings regularly occur; there is systemic discrimination against women, both civilly and criminally; women are blatantly mistreated and exploited, including in matters of economic access and inheritance; and there is no equal protection for women under the law.

In striking contrast, the Arabs who remained in Israel gained citizenship, equal rights and became an integral part of Israeli society. Why would Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever seek to harm Israel and promote the dystopian nightmare scenario of terrorist Hamas instead? They shouldn’t and it’s why the Anti-Boycott Law should be enforced to protect Israel and US citizens from these misguided and illegal actions by Ben & Jerry’s and by extension Unilever, which could prevent its subsidiary from pursuing so ignominious a program.

Under US law [8], it is the policy of the US that Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected and Jerusalem be recognized as the capital of Israel. The President of the US officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel [9]. Does the Board of Ben and Jerry’s actually intend to defy US law and pursue its own foreign policy in conflict with US policy? Are Jews praying at the Western Wall, the Tomb of the Patriarch, Rachel’s Tomb or the graves of ancestors at the Mount of Olives to be similarly treated under this toxic policy? Don’t they understand that these areas were ethnically cleansed of Jews by the Arabs in 1948, who rejected partition?

Do the Oslo Accords and the withdrawal from Gaza mean nothing to these zealous ideologues? Apparently not; their program merely effectuates the malign policies of Iran and Hamas, who support this inimical program of boycotting Israel. This goes to the very essence of why there is a US Anti-Boycott Law.

Earlier this year, more than sixty groups from the US and Europe teamed up with Iran and Hamas to wage a BDS war against Israel [10]. The Gaza event was called ‘Year to Confront Normalization’ and the related Iranian event, broadcast simultaneously from Teheran, was called ‘Together Against Normalization’. In furtherance of the boycott of Israel by the terrorist Iranian and Hamas regimes, the more than sixty anti-Israel and pro-BDS organizations launched what was called ‘Peoples Against Normalization’ campaign [11]. The collaborative link to the Iranian regime is probative [12]. It establishes that at the very least Iran is fostering these BDS malevolent efforts in the US.

I can’t help but wonder about the ignorance or insensitivity of many of these dilettante boycotters, who have joined with abhorrent terrorists in boycotting Israel. Don’t they realize they have become the useful dupes of the terrorist Hamas and Iranian regimes in their efforts to delegitimize and destroy the State of Israel and ethnically cleanse it of Jews?

Unilever should compel Ben and Jerry’s to end the boycott on the grounds that it is illegal. Besides the criminal and civil remedies under the Anti-Boycott Law, there are also reporting requirements. This puts Unilever in the untenable position of likely having to report to the US government on its own reported intervention [13] with the board of its subsidiary, as well as, its own actions At the very least, the boycott could be held in abeyance, pending obtaining a ruling from both the US Departments of Commerce and the Treasury, which have jurisdiction over this kind of a violation.

In this regard, it should be noted that aside from governmental action, there might also be a private right of action under the Anti-Boycott Law, as discussed in the Abrams v. Baylor case [14]. This would permit the affected US citizens to seek to compel Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever to comply with the Law and also sue for damages.

BDS is antisemitic and foolish. Israel is not an apartheid state. It's a diverse society with freedom of speech, religion and press, as well as, equal protection under law. This is not the case in the areas controlled by Hamas and the PA [15].

Don’t be misled by the scurrilous claims generated by the propaganda organs of the Iranian Regime and Hamas and their local minions in the US and elsewhere. They are just projecting unto others their own sins. The Bible [16] declares, those who bless Israel are blessed. Israel does so much good; it’s a blessing to the world. It’s time to unite to defeat BDS.

Leonard Grunstein (born July 18, 1952) is an American finance executive, retired lawyer and philanthropist. He is Managing Member of Hanlen Real Estate Development & Funding LLC, and Hanlen Healthcare Development & Funding LLC. Grunstein practiced law for over 35 years before retiring from the practice of law, and is the founder and current chairman of Project EZRAH.

Sources

[1] See, for example, Ben and Jerry’s boycott hurts Palestinians, by Bassem Eid, in the TImes of Israel blogs dated 7/21/2021.

[2] Section 8 of the Export Administration Act of 1979, which was implemented as Part 760 of the EAR.

[3] 28 USCA 1602-1611 and see 1603 (a)-(b).

[4] See: The BDS Movement: That Which We Call a Foreign Boycott, by Any Other Name, Is Still Illegal, by Marc A. Greendorfer, in the Roger Williams University Law Review, Volume 22, No. 1 (Winter 2017).

[5] Anti-Boycott Act of 2018, Part II of the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 (50 USC Chapter 58), and the antiboycott provisions set forth in Part 760 of the Export Administration Regulations, 15 CFR parts 730-774 (EAR).

[6] 15% of settlers are American, new research claims, by JTA, Times of Israel, 8/28/2015.

[7] See Facts and Figures UN Women-Palestine: Ending Violence Against Women and Jerusalem Institute of Justice, April 2016 Report on the Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women under the PA and Hamas.

[8] Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.

[9] Presidential Proclamation 9683 of 12/6/2017.

[10] BDS groups from US and Europe team up with Iran and Hamas against Israel, by Lahav Harkov, in the Jerusalem Post, dated 3/8/2021.

[11] BDS groups partner with terrorists from Gaza, Turkey, Iran to fight normalization, dated 3/9/2021 in the Cleveland Jewish Journal.

[12] When BDS Groups and Iran Meet, in Camera on Campus, dated 5/18/2021.

[13] Ben & Jerry’s board in dispute with owners Unilever over remaining in Israel, by TOI Staff, in Times of Israel, dated 7/20/2021 and Ben & Jerry’s Board Head Says Parent Company Didn’t Seek Their Approval To Say They Will Continue in Israel, by Aaron Bandler, in the Jewish Journal, dated 7/20/2021.

[14] Abrams v Baylor College of Medicine, 581 F.Supp.1570 (S.D. Texas-1984).

[15] See Revive Light and Truth; Eschew Night and Fog, by the author, in the Times of Israel blogs, dated 7/8/2021.

[16] Numbers 24:9 and Genesis 12:3.

Note: If you wish to email Unilever CEO Alan Jope, this is his address:

alan.jope@unilever.com

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