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BDS activists leaflet Ben & Jerry’s shops on commercial ties to Israeli settlements

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Activists in Bradfort, CT (Photo via Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel)

Activists in Bradfort, CT (Photo via Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel)


The second annual Free Cone Day leafleting action at Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops on Tuesday, April 8, organized by Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel (, was a great success.

Solidarity activists in at least 12 states (CA, CO, CT, NY, MA, MN, NC, NH, OR, NH, VT, and WA) distributed thousands of leaflets prepared by VTJP on Ben & Jerry’s commercial ties to illegal, Jewish-only settlements.

Additionally, 335 e-mails were sent to the company’s CEO, Jostein Solheim, on April 8, and in the two weeks leading up to FCD, more than 500 messages were e-mailed to him.

Your ice cream is free today – Palestine is not!

VTJP is still compiling reports on this year’s FCD action, and, in due course, we’ll post on our website [] a comprehensive summary of what transpired on April 8.

Here’s a sampling of what we’ve learned so far:

In San Jose, California, nearly 1,100 leaflets were handed out, and one of the activists shared an observation common to those who leafleted everywhere: “Most of the customers were pleasant, and many were interested to hear the information and take a leaflet.”

At least 1,000 more leaflets found their way into the hands of people at four scoop shops in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco.  There, as in San Jose, most encounters with the public were friendly and, according to one of the activists, “Many were ignorant of the situation in [Israel-Palestine], so it was a wonderful opportunity for education.”

Our compatriots with the New England Palestine Education Network and Veterans for Peace in Manchester, New Hampshire, told us many people are surprised to learn that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is being sold in Israeli settlements.  VTJP activists have had the same experience frequently.

In Denver, a student activist was grateful for the opportunity to talk with people in his community about the Ben & Jerry’s campaign and the Israeli occupation generally.  He also appreciated the exposure this action generated for the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at the University of Colorado.

Members of Upper Hudson Peace Action’s Palestinian Rights Committee leafleted outside a cone shop in Albany, New York, and held a sign that read: “Ben & Jerry’s: Yes in Albany. No in Illegal Israeli Settlements.”  They spoke with the shop manager, who was polite, said he knew why they were there, and invited them in for a free cone.

In Portland, Oregon, twelve volunteers from the local chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace, Portland Palestine Coalition, Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, and Americans United for Equal Palestinian Rights passed out hundreds of leaflets and only two were dropped on the ground.

Jewish Voice for Peace activists in Tacoma, Washington, noted that not only were folks “willing to take the info, but the overwhelming majority left with leaflet still in hand!” The action also provided a great opportunity to reach a lot of young people.

In Vermont, there was leafleting at the two scoop shops in Burlington, including the one at the University of Vermont, and at the company’s factory in Waterbury.  Members of VTJP’s BDS committee spoke with CEO Jostein Solheim and Rob Michalak, the head of the company’s Global Mission Office, when they dropped in at the scoop shop in downtown Burlington.

The Ben & Jerry’s Campaign is Growing!

The FCD action this year saw many more activists, groups and scoop shops involved.  Moreover, since last September, 220 organizations around the world have signed VTJP’s letter [] urging the company to stop doing business with Israeli settlements.  We respectfully ask organizations that have not done so to consider adding their names to the letter.

What began as a conversation in 2011 between a small band of activists in Vermont on how to contribute locally to the international BDS movement has grown into something much bigger than we could have imagined, and inspires us to keep organizing and engaging Ben & Jerry’s.

VTJP is one year into this campaign, and there is still much work to be done.

About Mark Hage

Mark Hage is a Palestine Solidarity activist with Vermonters for Justice in Palestine.

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26 Responses

  1. Herb Glatter
    Herb Glatter on April 24, 2014, 11:18 am

    Thanks Mark I was concerned that I wouldn’t have anything to post on Facebook page Mondodreck.

    • Citizen
      Citizen on April 24, 2014, 12:45 pm

      Hey, how ya doing, Herb? You’re one of the guys fairly recently defending Sodastream here on MW.
      You said those who attack Sodastream don’t care about it’s Palestinians workers losing their jobs, in effect. Historically, you’d be defending the slave Plantation South in the US because the house slaves would lose their jobs if slavery was ended.

    • lonely rico
      lonely rico on April 24, 2014, 7:36 pm

      Arrogance Mr. Glatter ?
      Sounds like you’ve got a nice facebook page, connecting with your friends and likers.
      And tough luck for the torture and murder and dispossession of the . . . who was it again ? I forget, who cares, anyway, another cone, another laugh –
      Mondodreck, sounds like fun !

    • American
      American on April 25, 2014, 11:16 am


      I see you are a regular commenter at Daniel Pipes and Pam Geller’s blogs.
      You do know that Geller’s group has been listed as hate group dont you?
      I must say that militant zionist like you offend my american ‘sensitivities and make me ‘uncomfortable and feel ‘not safe’ in my own country.
      I think I should notify the proper authorities about some of your racist and hate staements. We cant have people like you making other people feel ‘scared’ and inciting violence against other US citizens.
      You could turn out to be a Jewish version of the KKK Miller shooter in Kansas.
      Best to nip you in the bud before that happens.
      If you feel this infringes on your freedom of speech then report it to the Zio orgs that are currently trying to make laws against free speech…maybe they will make an exception for your free speech.

  2. amigo
    amigo on April 24, 2014, 12:04 pm

    Herb—bye bye.

  3. brenda
    brenda on April 24, 2014, 12:41 pm

    amazing response after only 2 years, thanks for the good news.

    • Walid
      Walid on April 24, 2014, 2:21 pm

      It’s good, Brenda, but it could be better. Ben and Jerry is small change for the company that controls it and that has over 400 known brands that are worth boycotting much more than this one that’s mostly made up of franchisees. Number of actual employees at B&J is about 500, at Unilever that owns the biggest piece of B&J, it’s 175,000 employees. It’s doubtful the guys at the Burlington H.O. have any say where B&J does business.

      • brenda
        brenda on April 24, 2014, 3:47 pm

        yes, can always be better in the effect, but all the same, an amazing accomplishment for: “What began as a conversation in 2011 between a small band of activists in Vermont on how to contribute locally to the international BDS movement… “

  4. ritzl
    ritzl on April 24, 2014, 12:43 pm

    Somewhat OT, but Starbucks and Sodastream are paying a price for the investment/merger rumors.

    Starbucks down. Sodastream down, after a rumor runup. That’s not to dismiss the possibility that Starbucks (already comfortable doing business in settlements) will ultimately pump some cash into SODA.

    Thanks for this article. The protests/protesters are having real biz effect. Surely B&Js will have to take notice, soon.

    • brenda
      brenda on April 24, 2014, 2:41 pm

      “…Starbucks (already comfortable doing business in settlements) … ”

      Woo! Is BDS targeting Starbucks? that would have to be huge, no? “No triple latte for you if you want to be PC”

      • ritzl
        ritzl on April 24, 2014, 3:50 pm

        @brenda- It looks like I goofed again. Starbucks pulled out of Israel in 2002. Their CEO is a Zionist, and I conflated/confused that and corporate settlement affinity.

      • ritzl
        ritzl on April 24, 2014, 4:19 pm

        Though, I’m of the firm opinion that Zionism corrupts everything it touches.

        In this case a Zionist CEO may have, don’t know for sure, used his shareholders’ money (Starbucks stock dip) to contemplate (at this point, certainty +/- to follow) a cash infusion for a company doing business illegally in Israel, predominantly based on a Zionist affinity.

      • lysias
        lysias on April 24, 2014, 4:43 pm

        That’s a relief. I’m going to my local Starbucks for a coffee.

    • Kathleen
      Kathleen on April 24, 2014, 3:21 pm


    • LeaNder
      LeaNder on April 24, 2014, 7:53 pm

      Are they trying to boost the shares with rumors? Where exactly did the rumors about the PepsiCo takeover originate exactly?

      Shares fell 5% to $42.49 after Wednesday’s 11% rise following a report by Israeli business news website Globes that the company is discussing the sale of a 10% stake to Starbucks.

      Starbucks declined comment on a potential $1 billion deal with SodaStream, which makes carbonated beverage machines that allow consumers to create their own sodas as a greener, cheaper alternative to bottled soft drinks.

      Israel-based SodaStream has popped before on takeover talk. In February, shares rose 6% on speculation that the firm was being courted by PepsiCo.

      brenda, ritzl, either I am, or you are confused.

      Our Politically incorrect faction over here (Anti-German camp, fervent supporters of Israel, pro-American imperialism) are quite angry with Starbucks really. They feel the firm does not show enough support of Israel and has a misguided pro-Palestinians position. In 2009 they apparently invited their readers to take action, offering them a contact link to Starbucks Germany to protest.

      And here is why: Starbucks Newsroom: Facts about the Middle East

      • ritzl
        ritzl on April 25, 2014, 4:30 pm

        I think I confused the issue about Starbucks, LeaNder. They were in Israel, then they were out (claiming a lack of profitability), they get slammed by the groups you mention for getting out (long memories?), yet their CEO is a Zionist Hero. I was confused and shouldn’t have been so categorical.

  5. BrianEsker
    BrianEsker on April 24, 2014, 2:49 pm

    Ben and Jerry’s buying team visiting Palestinian Farmers and manufacturers

    One of Canaan Fair Trade’s biggest customers for ALMONDS, Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream, visit Canaan and the PFTA this month!

    • talknic
      talknic on April 25, 2014, 12:15 am

      BrianEsker “One of Canaan Fair Trade’s biggest customers for ALMONDS, Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream, visit Canaan and the PFTA this month!”

      So? How does that negate their trade with illegal settlements?

  6. Linda J
    Linda J on April 24, 2014, 8:56 pm

    Hey, speaking of BDS, are you all aware the University of Washington student group SUPER-UW filed a divestment resolution with the student senate about a week ago?

    They need support. Please sign the petition (scroll to bottom of page) and if you can, donate to their costs for getting the world out.

    • jon s
      jon s on April 25, 2014, 7:52 am

      Campaigning against Ben and Jerry’s has got to be one of the most idiotic manifestations of bds, ever.
      At least with Sodastream there’s a case that makes some sense, since the Sodastream facility is located in a settlement. Not so in this case.

      • Walid
        Walid on April 25, 2014, 9:56 am

        Burlington, Waterbury or Winooski where the movement took off isn’t exactly the most swinging place in the US. Picketing an ice cream shop in one of them may be the most action these places had ever seen.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka on April 25, 2014, 12:03 pm

        “Campaigning against Ben and Jerry’s has got to be one of the most idiotic manifestations of bds, ever.”

        Nonsense. As long as Israelis are occupying Palestine, no Israeli should be permitted even the smallet joy if it can be prevented, even something as small as a dip of B&J ice cream,

  7. Sumud
    Sumud on April 25, 2014, 8:58 am

    Not quite on topic but Rap News have a new video up and it’s about Israel and Palestine – including ScarJo and her BFF Sodastream.

    It’s hilarious and depicts Israel – as we know it. My single objection at first watch is that the Hamas character is dressed as a suicide bombers, an outdated caricature.

    Highlights – an appearance by Norman Finkelstein and the news anchor, whose network is called ‘MSMBS’ reporting “Palestinian suicide homes are ramming themselves into peaceful Israeli bulldozers”…

  8. American
    American on April 25, 2014, 12:27 pm

    The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle together with StandWithUs* AJC* ADL*
    J Street* New Israel Fund* HillelUW* invite you to an important event for our Jewish community on the anti Israel Boycott DS campaign and the threat it poses to Israel and to Jews in Seattle and beyond.

    Anti-Israel BDS Campaign: Bad for Israel, A Threat to Jews in Seattle and Beyond
    May 28, 2014 7:30 PM

    An award-winning journalist, and columnist and editorial board member for the Haaretz newspaper, Ari Shavit is the author of the best-selling book, My Promised Land.
    He is a leading voice from Israel’s political left. A frequent critic of Israel’s government, he is also one of Israel’s most vocal defenders.
    Outside of Israel, however, Shavit faces increasingly ugly rhetoric, being called a “war criminal” and worse simply because he’s a Jewish Israeli.
    Shavit believes the BDS campaign vilifies not only Israel, but Jews and the Jewish community in general.>>>>>

    Well, well, so BDS is a ‘threat’ to Jews everywhere? What hype.
    Also extremely stupid to tie Jews to whatever Israel’s fate is.
    There is no zionist ‘left’……everyone should quit pretending there is.

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