Ice cream men have no clothes

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Ben Cohen has stayed cool like the ice cream that bears his name. But as his interview last week with Axios on HBO drew to a close, he revealed that his thinking about Israel and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was as inconsistent and messy as a Cherry Garcia scoop left behind. in the sun on a hot day.

Ben and Jerry’s decision to ban their product in East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria was not anti-Semitic, Cohen insisted. (“What? I’m anti-Jewish? I mean, I’m Jewish. My family is Jewish, my friends are Jews,” he exclaimed.) Nor was he meant to harm Israel; it was simply an expression of moral outrage at the plight of the Palestinians.

The interviewer asked the obvious question: if so, why are they still selling ice cream in the state of Georgia – which has passed a voter registration law that scandalizes progressives, and in Texas – where the recent legislation drastically restrict abortions?

Jerry Greenfield has admitted that there are things happening in every state in the Union that are wrong, but that doesn’t stop them from combing it all over the United States.

Ben Cohen’s response revealed a successful businessman who has no idea of ​​the parameters of activism:

“I don’t know. I mean it’s an interesting question. I don’t know what that would bring… I think you’re asking a really good question, and I should sit down and think about it a bit,” he said. he thought.

But he had no problem kicking the only Jewish state in the back, at a time when violent anti-Semitism on both sides of the Atlantic has skyrocketed – fueled in large part by war. the Hamas rocket against Israeli civilians.

Additionally, the ice cream moguls, seemingly in search of world peace and social justice, handed a blank check to a chairman of the board who openly hates the Jewish state and defends the terrorists of the Hamas and Hezbollah who hate Jews.

Do we think Ben and Jerry are conscious anti-Semites? No. But anti-Semitism doesn’t need to be aware to be dangerous. In the 21st century, there is a well-established litmus test for anti-Semitism, conscious or not. It was designed by human rights icon Natan Sharansky.

He calls it the “three Ds”: delegitimization (attacking the legitimacy of Israel and / or Judaism), demonization (Israel is the source of much of the world’s evil), and double standard (demanding from Israel). let it act in a way not another nation would ever do – that is, not respond to thousands of terrorist rockets aimed at your heart). All three are central elements of BDS campaigns.

Can Jews Be Anti-Semites? Of course, they can: just as Americans can hate and slander America – as squad members demonstrate in Congress; and just as black people are rightly upset when unambiguously uncle Tom claims to speak for them.

Yes, Jews can be overt anti-Semites. Jewish history easily shows more Jewish anti-Semites than sprinkles on a Chocolate Fudge Brownie sundae.

In modern times, Karl Marx, a descendant of rabbis on both the paternal and maternal sides, wrote that the practical solution to the Jewish problem is for humanity to emancipate itself from Judaism. In post-revolutionary Russia, the Communist Party created a section whose mission statement was the “destruction of traditional Jewish life, the Zionist movement and Hebrew culture”. This section, the Yevsektsiya, was made up of Jews who brutally suppressed Judaism, denouncing their party co-religionists of being “disappeared” in Siberia or outright murdered.

Neither Ben Cohen nor Jerry Greenfield, God forbid, want to line the Jews up against a wall. There is, however, an insidious form of anti-Semitism, often unconscious, and common to non-Jews and Jews alike. It’s an uneasiness with Jews and Jewish things – the kind that leads to violations of Sharansky’s Three Ds without ever consciously thinking why their passion is reserved only for the Jewish state.

For those of us who often speak with others about the virtues of different cultures, one of the most pronounced characteristics of Jewish life over the past few millennia has been loyalty – with Jews protecting the lives of other Jews, even those who thought differently, or that they didn’t know at all.

Ben and Jerry launched their boycott at a time of raging anti-Semitism. It is unforgivable. It will not help a single Palestinian but will negatively impact the Jewish community around the world every day it happens. Far from fulfilling Tikkun Olam’s saying, or fixing the world, he has managed to add another divide.

So we won’t count on Ben or Jerry to suddenly absorb the lessons of 3,500 years of Jewish history. That’s why we, along with many US states and investors, are focusing our efforts on Ben and Jerry’s business owners – Unilever – to do the right thing and reverse the parody.


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