The telling Ben & Jerry’s backlash: Even a targeted economic pressure campaign against Israel’s settlements meets a vitriolic response

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An Israeli flag is set atop a delivery truck outside US ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s factory in Be’er Tuvia. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP via Getty Images)
The backlash creates a smokescreen, distracting from the moral issue of Israeli occupation.

By Toby Irving | New York Daily News | Aug 3, 2021

Unfortunately, dominant politics, both here and in Israel, are still not able to hold the nuances Ben & Jerry’s and many American Jews hold so dear. It’s all BDS to them.

The people at Ben & Jerry’s who decided to remove their products from Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories anticipated significant backlash, but I wonder if they saw all the “meltdown” puns coming. Over the last few weeks, defenders of Israeli apartheid certainly lost it reacting to one of the highest-profile corporate actions against Israeli occupation. Ben & Jerry’s decided its products would no longer be made available in settlements in the West Bank.

Settlements are violations of international law and are widely recognized as antithetical to any hope for peace. Their expansion has all but killed the possibility of a two-state solution as it entrenches apartheid into the landscape of the West Bank. Ben & Jerry’s, motivated by its longstanding values of peace and social justice and the company’s and founders’ history in Israel, is doing its part to reject endless occupation. The move is not as sweeping an economic action as the Boycott-Divest-Sanctions (BDS) movement, the international non-violent Palestinian solidarity movement which calls for boycotts of the state of Israel, would have it, but BDS advocates still consider it a success.

This is a pressure test. As much as Americans say it’s okay to criticize Israel amidst growing support for Palestinian liberation, any material action is doomed to retaliation and accusations of anti-Semitism.

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