By Donna Westfall – August 6, 2021
As a kid growing up in 1950’s Los Angeles, we all waited excitedly for the Good Humor Ice Cream Truck to come to our neighborhood. We’d run up and trade our nickels and dimes for an ice cream bar.
Where did the ice cream bar come from? A Danish immigrant, Christian Nelson was a teacher and store owner in Onawa, Iowa engaged in selling candy and ice cream. In 1919, a young boy came into a shop and couldn’t decide which flavor to get, chocolate or vanilla, Nelson decided to try combining the two. He developed the first chocolate covered vanilla ice cream bar which was called “I Scream”, later to be known as Eskimo Pie. His slogan and chant stayed with children through the 1970’s and 1980’s.
43 years ago, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their first ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont. Friends since 7th grade, their brand, Ben and Jerry’s, is now known world-wide and worth around $500 million.
However, instead of sticking to their business, they got political. It didn’t happen overnight. But on July 19, 2021, Ben and Jerry’s (parent company Unilever) made this statement:
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. …..we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.”
The fact is that Ben and Jerry’s have always been political. As far back as 1988, they started a non-profit organization with the aim of redirecting 1% of the national defense budget towards peace promoting activities.
In 2005, they protested oil drilling in the artic by handing out pieces of a huge 900 pound baked Alaska on the US Capitol lawn.
In 2009, they changed the name of their Chubby Hubby ice cream to Hubby Hubby because Vermont became the 5th state in the union to legalize same sex marriage.
In 2016, they handed out pints of ice cream named “Empower Mint” to members of Congress asking them to start working to reverse the Supreme Court’s 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act. Later that year, they were arrested at the Democracy Awakening protests.
Since their decision to stop selling ice cream in OPT in Israel, this is the backlash they’ve experienced:
Franchisees located in major American cities that operate 30 stores with a total of $23.3 million in revenue annually wrote a letter asking Unilever to rescind the boycott because they’re losing money.
Here’s the interesting part. Both Ben and Jerry are Jewish. Their left leaning politics isn’t anything new.
Let’s clear up some fuzzy areas. First of all, Unilever may want to blame Ben & Jerry, but Unilever is the SOLE SHAREHOLDER AND OWNER of Ben and Jerry’s. They claim that Unilever “never expressed any support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement.” Excuse me? Who’s wagging the tail on this dog?
In case you never heard of BDS here it is in a nutshell: It’s a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. In reality it promotes boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against Israel. Israel has about 9 million population.
Let’s be very clear what boycotting Israel means: “engaging in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with the State of Israel or companies based in the State of Israel or in territories controlled by the State of Israel.”
This year 35 states in the USA have ANTI-BDS bills. Take Illinois for example. If Unilever (Ben and Jerry’s) does not lift their proposed boycott, then Unilever will have 90 days to make a decision. If they decide to back Ben and Jerry’s stance, Illinois law would require divestment in Unilever or any of it subsidiaries. State-run pension systems are currently investigating their portfolios for Unilever-related interests. Now multiply this by all 35 states and you can see the economic crisis that will be in store for Unilever. That equates to hundreds of millions of dollars in divestment in state pension funds.
Ben and Jerry maintain they are proud Jews. Israel was one of their first overseas markets dating back to 1987. They support Israel but oppose some of their policies. But, is this the best way they can oppose their polices?
Now if you want to get some clarification about Occupied Palestinian Territory, do some research….on both sides.
In my opinion, it boils down to this. Palestinian’s shoot rockets, incendiary balloons or whatever into Israel and from OPT. Israel retaliates. People are killed on both sides.
But, in the larger scheme of things, Israel is a major player when it comes to trying to keep peace in the middle east, trying to survive, and in particular being a partner for the United States. When illegal President Biden gives away the farm in Iran, it will most likely be Israel that bombs Iran, not the US. When Trump was President, agreements were made with Israel and some Arab nations that promoted peace and prosperity.
Let’s not be naive. Iran would love to see our country destroyed in a heartbeat. That may be oversimplification. Well, to be fair they would like the US and allies to lift all the sanctions about their nuclear activities. They are bolstered economically by both China and Russia. The leaders of Iran want to see the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel. Hardly an endorsement for peace and prosperity. Hardly a good reason to lift sanctions about their nuclear proclivities.
Of the 22 nations making up the Arab league, only six have peace treaties with Israel.
Getting back to what role does ice cream play in the middle east? Let’s hope it’s a minor one and WWIII doesn’t become the springboard because we’re all screaming about ice cream.