July 22, 2021
Chunky Monkey's Brain Freeze
In the late '80s when Ben & Jerry's first started to expand from two Jewish hippies in a Vermont garage to an international conglomerate, their first destination was Israel. As luck would have it the first location on Dizengoff was across the street from my then-apartment. The second location in Rishon was across from my office.
For a soccer charity game between my newspaper's team and a bunch of local politicians, our team was sponsored by Ben & Jerry's and wore those recognized green shirts. I played with the number 13 and tore my hamstring with virtually my first kick of the game that went over the crossbar. Perhaps that unlucky start (I was wearing 13) was a harbinger of things to come.
In the 30-something years since I have had many Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz cones. When I moved to Providence my house was - you guessed it - across the street from Ben & Jerry's and I could see the line on free cone day and avoid the rush. Want more? My son (like Ben & Jerry's founder) is Ben Cohen (yes, there are thousands of Ben Cohens, I know).
My unique relationship with the brand aside, their decision this week to not sell in the West Bank is one of surrender and cowardice in my opinion. I will not suggest that you (or anyone) boycott the company or its parent Unilever because boycotts and pendulum swings are in and of themselves forms of prejudice, even if their stated intent is to correct a wrong. I will also suggest that before you engage in a personal social media post or an impassioned speech at the Friday night table you should know the facts and not lose sight of them.
Personally I believe the Ben & Jerry's board is biased. I think this decision is stupid and I am one who supports a two-state solution. Like with Soda Stream a few years back, this decision will result in many Palestinians (not just Israelis) losing their jobs. I also think this is yet another example of cancel culture because in the eyes of the Ben & Jerry's board (and their like), you are cancelled and can no longer participate in the conversation if you are Israeli or Jewish because of their view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The cancel culture logic is: Palestinians are oppressed and Israel is the reason. Therefore no Israeli can be right and since Israel is where Jews are, no Jew can either. There isn't even room for debate. As such my opinion (and yours) is cancelled.
For more about this story here's:
"After Ben & Jerry's snub, President Herzog calls Israel boycotts 'a new kind of terrorism.'" 'The BDS campaign does not pursue peace and seeks to undermine the very existence of the State of Israel. It is aiming its arrows at the Israeli economy,' from The Times of Israel.
A report of Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked's visit to the Ben & Jerry's factory from JNS.
"Ben & Jerry's West Bank ice cream ban is a hot topic in Israel" from NBC News and for a little more about its leadership, "Ben & Jerry's board head says parent company didn't seek their approval to say they will continue in Israel."
And one final note: Locally we all know that the best ice cream (like the best bagels - see the next item) is served at family-owned places. Who's in for a sundae at Oxford Creamery?