BDS activist explains pressure on Ben & Jerry’s, calls on other companies to boycott Israel


A pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activist wrote an op-ed in The Guardian explaining how the BDS movement pressured Ben & Jerry’s to stop doing business in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

Mark Hage, a member of Vermonters for Justice in Palestine (VTJP), wrote in the August 5 editorial that he and other BDS activists had urged Ben & Jerry’s to stop doing business with Israeli settlements within 10 last years. VTJP first informed Ben & Jerry’s in 2011 that they were doing business with the colonies. Their talks came to a “standstill” in 2013, prompting VTJP to launch “a public campaign that urged Ben & Jerry’s to end its complicity with Israeli settlements.” We have underlined the obvious: the settlements constitute a flagrant violation of international law. Additionally, selling their products on illegally occupied land is in flagrant contradiction to the company’s social mission and its proud history of social activism.

Hage then claimed that Ben & Jerry’s said the company could break Israeli law if it left the settlements, prompting VTJP to argue that Ben & Jerry’s should leave Israel completely. Following the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, VTJP called for a boycott against Ben & Jerry’s. “The rest is history,” Hage wrote.

He added that although Ben & Jerry’s July 19 announcement indicated that they would remain in Israel, Ben & Jerry’s independent board of directors says their parent company, Unilever, has not released that part of it. the declaration as part of the agreement between the two. “VTJP will continue to organize until the company’s commitments are fully honored, in accordance with the decisions of the independent board of directors of Ben & Jerry,” Hage wrote. “We also implore other companies to sever their ties with the Israeli settlements and its economy as a whole. After all, Israeli settlements do not exist in isolation; they are fully supported by Israel, and it is perfectly clear that Israel’s human rights violations extend beyond its settlements.

Hage also lambasted the Israeli government for “demanding that our elected officials trample on our First Amendment rights and force a private American company to conduct business in a manner exclusively acceptable to the Israeli government and settlers, no matter what. this government or its settlers act for Palestinians. It is as outrageous as it sounds. “

Arsen Ostrovsky, human rights lawyer and CEO of the International Legal Forum, tweeted that Hage’s editorial “simply emphasizes that @benandjerrys’ boycott was never about” settlements “only, but boycott of EVERYTHING #ISRAEL “. He then tweeted to Unilever CEO Alan Jope that the “ball is in your court now… what will you do next?

Jope wrote in a July 27 letter to the Anti-Defamation League that Unilever “welcomed [Ben & Jerry’s] decision to remain categorically in Israel ”and that“ Unilever completely rejects and unequivocally repudiates any form of discrimination or intolerance. Anti-Semitism has no place in any society. We have never expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and have no intention of changing this position. “

Various states and locations have announced that they are investigating the use of their anti-BDS laws against Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever.

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