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Ben and Jerry’s latest flavor is PEP (Progressive Except for Palestine)

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Mark Hage leaflets outside Ben and Jerry’s in Burlington, on Bastille Day

Members of Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel ( leafleted hundreds of passers-by in front of Ben and Jerry’s scoop shop on Burlington’s Church Street mall on Sunday, July 14, wishing them a Happy Bastille Day and asking them to think about prisoners in Paris then, and Palestinians struggling for their freedom today in Israeli prisons and under occupation.

While many passers-by, even those from nearby francophone Montreal, don’t remember much about the day the French celebrate their independence, most were very supportive of efforts to get Ben and Jerry’s to stop distribution of their ice cream in illegal Jewish-only settlements. Vermonters are beginning to get the message that their iconic home-grown ice cream makers are not living up to their own progressive social mission that promotes peace and justice over militarization, and that ‘Progressive Except for Palestine’ (PEP) finds no exception, even with the company known here as “Vermont’s Finest.”

Ben and Jerry’s Social Mission:

“We seek and support nonviolent ways to achieve peace and justice. We believe government resources are more productively used in meeting human needs than in building and maintaining weapons systems.

We strive to show a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.”

Most Vermonters are aware that the company was purchased by Unilever in 2001.

Bastille Day poster
Bastille Day poster for Ben and Jerry’s

But not, strangely enough, that they control an Israeli factory that was not included in this takeover, and is still governed by B&J headquarters here in Vermont. What Ben and Jerry’s does in Israel, therefore, is a Vermont concern, not the concern of the multinational giant based in Europe that has fought its own BDS battles. Just this year Unilever finally bowed to international pressure to move one of its factories from a West Bank settlement to a location within the Green Line.

VTJP is currently engaged in a campaign to pressure Ben and Jerry’s to stop catering and distribution of its products in the settlements, and to take a public stand against the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory that is in line with its social mission. Thousands of people have responded by emailing the company and more than one hundred organizations internationally have joined us to pressure Ben and Jerry’s to stand by their social mission and promote justice for all, including, not excepting, the Palestinian people.

See for a full report and to contact Ben and Jerry’s to ask them to honor their own social mission and stop supporting the illegal occupation of Palestine.

About Katharine Shapiro

Kathy Shapiro is a member of VTJP. She works in international women's health, now as a consultant, and lives in Vermont.

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4 Responses

  1. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka on July 18, 2013, 11:01 am

    Keep up the fight. Boycott Ben & Jerry’s until they stop facilitating evil.

  2. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870 on July 18, 2013, 1:15 pm

    RE: “Vermonters are beginning to get the message that their iconic home-grown ice cream makers are not living up to their own progressive social mission that promotes peace and justice over militarization… Most Vermonters are aware that the company was purchased by Unilever in 2001.” ~ Kathy Shapiro

    MY COMMENT: As a matter of practice (as opposed to coprporate PR), all large corporations tend to be amoral!

    SEE – ESRA: Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ~ Tikkun Magazine, September/October 2010
    (As proposed by Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives)

    [EXCERPT] Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 enabled unlimited funding of U.S. elections by corporations, there has been some—but not nearly enough—discussion about how to reverse the appalling effects this will have on our democracy and our world. Some believe that legislation can do it. Many progressives are convinced a constitutional amendment is the only way because the current Supreme Court, which is the most right-wing court of the past seventy years, would likely declare any legislation unconstitutional. After the British Petroleum (BP) contamination of the Gulf of Mexico and the defeat by Congress of comprehensive legislation to lower carbon emissions, the urgent necessity for a comprehensive constitutional amendment requiring corporate environmental and social responsibility has become even clearer.

    We invite you to read our Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment (ESRA) and to review the accompanying Q&A to understand why we have gone further than other amendments proposed to deal with the core problems of corporate power and the need for environmental responsibility. The Q&A explains why we chose the approach we did in the details of this amendment (including why it is so long and so technical).

    We also invite other organizations to join us in coalition to cosponsor the ESRA, and we in turn will support any more narrowly focused amendments that would simply overturn the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court. . .


  3. jon s
    jon s on July 20, 2013, 2:33 pm

    Progressive Except for Palestine could mean people who are generally progressive but, in relation to this conflict, view anti-democratic religious fundamentalists such as Hizbullah and Hamas as fellow progressives.
    Ben & Jerry’s facility is in Kiryat Malakhi, inside Israel, not in the settlements. If you want to boycott for simply doing any business in Israel, you need to boycott virtually every international corporation in the world.

    • Shmuel
      Shmuel on July 20, 2013, 2:45 pm

      I found VTJP’s arguments about the factory’s water usage (in Kiryat Malachi) and the fact that B&J is sold at settlement supermarkets rather weak. Catering at settlements is a little more convincing – especially for a company priding itself on its social consciousness, which seems to be the point of the campaign.

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