Ben & Jerry’s free-cone day is greeted by Free Palestine demos

on 11 Comments

On Tuesday, Ben & Jerry’s, the Vermont-based ice cream-makers with the big social conscience, held its annual free-cone day in the States; and Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine coordinated a national demonstration against Ben & Jerry’s because the chain sells ice cream in the illegal settlements. 

Below are photographs from two of the actions, in Mt. Kisco, NY, and NYC. Felice Gelman participated in the Mt Kisco action (she’s wearing the purple shirt and sunglasses in the second photo), and she told me later that she was surprised by how friendly the Ben & Jerry’s customers were to the demonstrators. Gelman is used to getting abuse. There was almost none on the Ben & Jerry’s picket line, she reports– another sign that some of the fierce opposition to actions critical of the occupation is beginning to wilt in the U.S.

Ben and Jerrys 2
Ben and Jerry’s action, Mt Kisco, photo by Andrew Courtney
Ben and Jerrys 1
Ben and Jerry’s action, Mt Kisco, photo by Andrew Courtney

Here’s Adalah NY’s coverage of the demonstration at Ben & Jerry’s on 104th and Broadway in NYC. A photo below from that action shows two of our friends. 

Ben and Jerrrys 3
Ben and Jerrry’s NY
Adalah NY writes, “Tell Ben and Jerry’s, Free Cones Should Come with a Free Palestine.”
More history of the action, from Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel:

On March 14, Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel (VTJP) launched a campaign urging Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling and catering to Jewish-only settlements in occupied Palestine. Since then, close to 3,500 people have signed a petition to the company, 650 emails were sent to Ben & Jerry’s CEO, and more than 80 organizations have endorsed the campaign. To all those who have taken action so far, VTJP would like to say: Thank you. It makes a difference.

The president of the Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors, Jeff Furman, told the Burlington Free Press that he believes catering operations to the settlements have stopped since VTJP brought the matter to the company’s attention. This would signify a major victory for the campaign!

VTJP is still working to confirm Furman’s claim and is asking groups to redouble efforts to ensure that Ben & Jerry’s ends all complicity with Israel’s occupation and discriminatory policies.

From that Burlington Free Press piece. The  activists reached out to Ben & Jerry’s executives. But nothing happened:

In a report released Thursday, the advocacy group [Vermonters for a Just Peace] details “field research” that says marketing of Ben & Jerry’s products in four specific settlements. The report also recounts a series of communications between group members and Ben & Jerry’s executives, in which the group expressed its concerns. After the dialogue ended with what the group calls “no immediate prospect of action by the company,” members decided to issue the report.

The report calls for, among other things, an end to the marketing of Ben & Jerry’s products in the Jewish-only settlements.

Furman said marketing is done by independent distributors who are out of Ben & Jerry’s control.

Ben & Jerry’s actions obviously violate its own policy of a social mission. From the Vermonters for a Just Peace site, “Peace, Love and Occupation?”

In 2011, Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel learned that Ben & Jerry’s franchise in Israel is manufacturing ice cream and selling it in illegal Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Additionally, in 2010, as Israel was expanding its illegal settlements and continuing to impose an inhuman siege on Gaza, Ben & Jerry’s opened a new factory in Israel and announced plans to re-establish 16 new stores and kiosks across the country.
    By doing business in Israel and in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, it violates its own Social Mission and engages in unethical practices.

    Leave a Reply