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

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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.

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11 Responses

  1. flyod
    April 11, 2013, 3:27 pm

    can’t have haagen-daz either. whats an ice cream lover to do?

    “Her two great loves both began with the letter ‘I’: ice cream and Israel,” said Morton Klein, president of the ZOA. “She was a very generous contributor to Jews living in Judea and Samaria. No one surpassed her commitment to the holy Jewish land of Israel.”

    ice cream wars (maybe b&j is ok or has something changed?);

    this is all nuts….

    • a blah chick
      a blah chick
      April 11, 2013, 9:47 pm

      “Her two great loves both began with the letter ‘I’: ice cream and Israel,”

      I think it’s much worse. As I recall the guy who founded Haagen Daz was a supporter of Meir Kahane, which is why I boycotted them.

      • flyod
        April 12, 2013, 6:41 am

        agreed. it was haagen-daz that funded the illegal settlements

  2. ritzl
    April 11, 2013, 3:36 pm

    On the macro level, B&J don’t seem to honor their own mantra.

    On the micro level, and please forgive me for saying this as a non-Jew, there seems to be a nearly overwhelming immersion/predisposition of “Must Support Israel because it is me [so I’ve been instructed from early on]” amongst most (I may be wrong, but I believe it to be “most”) even normally/nominally “justice-oriented” people of Jewish ethnicity/…

    Tough to get past, imo.

    As stated in the piece, B&J hasn’t been able to reconcile the conflict in its mission. But then, it may. This is kind of a test case in the maleability of “Jewish” opinion on Israel, imo.

  3. W.Jones
    April 11, 2013, 3:42 pm

    The sense of humor, like with the frowning smiley face, is the best part.

  4. kylebisme
    April 11, 2013, 3:43 pm

    Good stuff. Hit the settlers where it hurts: in the taste buds. I rarely eat ice cream, but just had some Ben & Jerry’s the other day, and I’ll make that my last until they start living up to their Social Mission.

    • annie
      April 11, 2013, 5:59 pm

      ice cream is my favorite food and i don’t eat b&j anymore, ever.

  5. W.Jones
    April 11, 2013, 3:45 pm

    It’s not just the issue of catering to West Bank settlements.

    BJ’s factory there is by an abandoned village whose inhabitants are living in refugee camps.

  6. Mike_Konrad
    April 11, 2013, 8:44 pm

    Take it easy on Ben & Jerry. Both its founders are Jewish, and that probably enters into the equation.

    But more than that … what no one seems to admit … they all know it … but refuse to admit it … is that both sides want the political destruction of the other side’s political state. It should be obvious that no Israeli is going to give up his dream state any more than the Palestinians want to surrender their claim to the land.

    There is no happy solution to any of this. More than that, there is NO JUST solution to any of this. Whoever wins, someone is going to be hurt; and hurt very badly.

    When a Palestinian is kicked out of a house, it is tragic. It will be no less tragic if Jews are kicked out of a house, because of some right of return for Palestinians, or the forced removal of settlers.

    None of this is a case of black and white.


    Innocents are going to be hurt.

    So take it easy on Ben and Jerry. I never really bought their ice cream anyway. I was more of a Haagen Dazs man.


    In any event, I want to break for a nice idea.

    How is Hudwaida Arraf? Did she have her kid in Israel, yet? Boy or girl? Is the mother healthy? The child?

    Whatever, I hope the parents are happy, healthy … and the child is okay.

    I am condemned for my harsh comments, but the arrival of a new baby is hope springing eternal. In such moments, even I can wish only the best for the parties and the baby.

    I wish them well.

  7. just
    April 11, 2013, 9:28 pm

    I enjoy pistachio ice cream– B&J’s makes the best.

    Iranians love pistachios as well, but cannot afford them due to the sanctions.

    Pitiful, and I have not had my very favorite ice cream from B&J’s since.

  8. mcohen
    April 13, 2013, 5:32 am

    just says:
    April 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Iranians love pistachios as well, but cannot afford them due to the sanctions

    absolutely -the iranian figs are good too, especially the round ones

    i have started boycotting all arab products and encourage everyone i meet to do the same.i feel that arab states have failed there palestinian brothers and should be providing aid to them instead of the west
    i read today that qatar and libya had to bail egypt out because america did not give the egyptians there billions of dollars in”aid”.

    on the other hand i will continue to buy iranian products as i believe that they do not deserve the bad reputation we are told to believe

    thats all for now

    I enjoy pistachio ice cream– B&J’s makes the best.

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