‘Obies’ urge Ben & Jerry’s to end complicity with occupation

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
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The following press release was sent to us yesterday. For more on the campaign to pressure Ben & Jerry’s see here.

Oberlin Students and Alumni urge Ben & Jerry’s to End Their Complicity in Israel’s Occupation and Illegal Settlements

Dear Jerry Greenfield, OC ‘73,

We understand that you have been in conversation with Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel (VTJP) since 2011 and are beginning to hear from broader concerned communities about Ben & Jerry’s commercial complicity in Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its illegal, Jewish-only settlements. We thought it was time for you to hear from some fellow Obies who share a bit of your history.

You have, on a number of occasions, cited Oberlin values as part of your approach to ice cream and business. In 2008, when you returned to campus for a lecture titled “Liberal Arts, Social Responsibility, and Ice Cream,” you shared your memories of a radical Oberlin and your “firm belief that businesses do not have to choose between profit and social concerns.”

You spoke also about your most powerful Oberlin memory–the student strike after the Kent State shootings of May 1970. Some of us writing to you share your memories of Kent State. For many of us, like you, it was shockingly new that students could be killed at home for their resistance to militarization and inequality.

In communities of color in the U.S., however, this was not news. Today, this is also a daily reality for Palestinian and Israeli young people who have committed themselves to resisting apartheid and occupation.

Others of us writing to you have found ourselves in more recent Oberlin teach-ins over the last months, classes canceled again as we face the persistence of racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism in our communities. Generations of Oberlinians have and continue to grapple with how to make change and to understand our layers of complicity in systems of oppression that exist in our local and global worlds. In 2008, and on many other occasions, you have located yourself and the story of Ben & Jerry’s in this tradition.

Even after selling Ben & Jerry’s to a multinational corporation, Unilever, you remained confident that ethical socially responsible engagement would continue to drive Ben & Jerry’s business decisions:

“Ethical business is still possible. You just have to do things differently. Normal businesses think only about profit. We ask people to think about something else — social and environmental change. The work is harder, but it’s more fulfilling.”

Moreover, your impressive Social Mission still commits Ben & Jerry’s to:

…meet human needs and eliminate injustices in our local, national and international communities by integrating these concerns into our day-to-day business activities.

…seek and support nonviolent ways to achieve peace and justice.
…show a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.

We, members of your Oberlin community, urge you to put your Social Mission to work and take the following measures presented by VTJP until Israel ends its discriminatory practices and colonization of Palestinian lands in compliance with international law:

1. End the marketing, catering and sales of Ben & Jerry’s products in Israel and Jewish-only settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

2. Stop manufacturing ice cream in Israel.

3. Issue a statement calling (a) for an end to Israel’s occupation and settlement enterprise and (b) appeal directly to other socially responsible companies to do likewise and to end business operations in Israel and its illegal settlements.

We understand that what is being asked of you and the company you helped to found is not easily met in a world of neo-liberal globalization, but you have consistently made public commitments to fight the odds in favor of ethical engagement in the world. You and Ben & Jerry’s have waged this uphill battle before. Your Oberlin fellows want to remind you that you won’t be alone in this struggle.

Sincerely,
Alice Beecher, OC ‘14
Robin Beck, OC ’09
John Bergen, OC ’14
Joshua Birch, OC ‘09
Louis Bodin, OC ‘11
Maia Brown, OC ‘10
Doug Brown, OC ‘70
Sam Cassanos, OC ‘10
Angus Chen, OC ‘13
Rachel Cotterman, OC ‘10
Daniel Cowan, OC ‘10
Joshua R. Christian, OC ‘11
Brittany Dawson, OC ‘13
Jade Doolan, OC ’09
Anne Elder, OC ‘53
John Elder, OC ‘53
Anna Ernst, OC ‘10
Dalia Fakhouri, OC ‘10
Allegra Fonda-Bonardi, OC ‘11
Kevin G. Gilfether, OC ‘13
Daniel Gould, OC ‘13
Nigar Hacizade, OC ‘09
Julie Haddad, OC ‘10
Justin Halliwill, OC 13
Amanda Jacir, OC ‘13
Isadora Jaffee, OC ‘13
Lucia Anne Kalinosky, OC ‘13
Margaret Kent, OC ‘10
Hannah Kali Lindner-Finlay, OC ‘10
Anna Lunde, OC ‘10
Bernie Mayer, OC ‘68
Ornella Delle Noci, OC ’13
Jonathan Sidney, OC ’11
Mark Sikorski, OC ‘16
Robert Sohmer, OC ‘15
Kadrieh Abu Shchada, OC ‘09
Tanya Tran, OC ‘15
Leo Walker, OC ’10
Maxwell Wolcott, OC ‘10
Mia Young, OC ‘13

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