Letter: Respond to Ben & Jerry Editorial | Letters


To the editor: I agree with Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield that “it is possible to support Israel and to oppose some of its policies”. However, there are inaccuracies and omissions in their editorial (July 30) (“We’re Ben and Jerry. Ice Cream Men, Men of Principle.”) That require a response to correct the record.

We are the founders of Ben & Jerry’s. We are also proud Jews. It’s part of who we are a …

First, the comment promotes a major factual inaccuracy, stating that “Israeli policy… perpetuates an illegal occupation”. While reasonable people in Israel and around the world may criticize and criticize Israel’s policies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, its control over these territories is not “illegal.” The West Bank and East Jerusalem were illegally seized by Jordan in 1948 and illegally occupied until 1967, when Israel pushed back Jordan in self-defense. Former Vice President of the International Court of Justice Stephen Schwebel said “Israel has reacted defensively against the threat and use of force against it by its Arab neighbors.” He also wrote that “a State acting in the legitimate exercise of its right of self-defense may seize and occupy foreign territory as long as such seizure and occupation is necessary for its self-defense”.

The 1993 Oslo Accords that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed to stipulated that Israel would fully control East Jerusalem and 60 percent of the West Bank until the two sides negotiated a final peace deal. Israel has repeatedly agreed to leave the vast majority of these territories in return for peace, but the Palestinian leadership has rejected every Israeli offer. Therefore, Israel’s rule is fully legal under international treaties and continues mainly because of decisions made by the Palestinian leadership.

Second, Ben & Jerry claim that “the decision to stop sales outside Israel’s democratic borders is not a boycott of Israel” or an endorsement of boycott, divestment and sanctions. [BDS] movement. But they forget to mention that the independent chairman of the company’s board, Ms Mittal, has explicitly promoted BDS and that Ben & Jerry’s independent board has not made any commitment to sell in Israel to the future.

Finally, Ben & Jerry’s decision to protect the company’s “brand integrity” and pursue its “social mission” is apparently limited to Israel rather than other countries involved in territorial disputes. For example, Ben & Jerry’s seems to have no problem with operating two ice cream parlors in Cyprus. Cyprus, which has been the subject of many foreign occupations, has been divided between Turkey and Greece since its invasion by Turkish forces in 1974. The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognized only by Turkey itself. . However, the ice cream company apparently had no moral objections to opening a branch in the disputed and divided capital of Cyprus, Nicosia.

Ben & Jerry’s also has no issues with the distribution of its products in Gibraltar, which is currently at the center of a long-standing dispute between the UK and Spain. The island was originally Spanish before being captured by British and Dutch forces over 300 years ago. Madrid refused to recognize British sovereignty over Gibraltar and previously suggested that the island’s English-speaking residents were settlers.

While Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenfield can truly support Israel and oppose BDS, the actions of the company they founded have undoubtedly contributed to this global campaign of hate.

Martin cohn

Newfane, July 30


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