Israeli students have sent a letter to Ben & Jerry’s, accusing the ice cream maker of “illegally” occupying tribal land in Vermont that belonged to an Abenaki Native American tribe.
The letter, addressed to Ben & Jerry’s board chair Anuradha Mittal, which was signed by over 1,000 Israeli students and academics associated with Students for Justice in America, slammed Ben & Jerry’s for hypocritically boycotting Judea and Samaria.
“We have concluded that your company’s occupation of the Abenaki lands is illegal and we believe it is wholly inconsistent with the stated values that Ben & Jerry’s purports to maintain. Ironically, in July of the last year you announced that you would discontinue the sale of your products in Israel because you object to the Jewish State allegedly occupying Palestinian territories,” the letter said, according to the New York Post.
The letter highlighted the fact that Ben & Jerry’s sued parent company Unilever in an attempt to prevent it from selling the ice cream maker’s Israel business to a local franchise so its products could still be sold in Israel.
“Ben and Jerry’s has never even offered to provide compensation to this indigenous nation in Vermont,” the letter said. “Justice, morality and boycotts are not just slogans and antisemitic weapons for your food company to point at the Jewish community in Israel. Justice and morality must begin at home.”
The letter called on Ben & Jerry’s to leave the land it owns in South Burlington, Waterbury and Saint Albans, Vermont and to “return them to the Abenaki people.”
“Your company has no right to these stolen territories,” the students wrote.
The Abenaki Nation was acknowledged by Vermont through State Recognition in 2012.
“Vermont’s Native history started 12,900 years ago when people called the Paleo-Indians first moved into the land we now call Vermont. Since these earliest occupations nearly 13,000 years ago, Native communities have continually lived in Vermont. Native knowledge, experience, and traditions have deeply influenced many aspects of Vermont’s rich history,” the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs website said.