Opinion

Ben and Jerry won’t tell you who’s trying to kill Iran Deal

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God bless them, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of the Vermont ice cream company are supporting the Iran Deal. They sent out a note for friends to sign a Moveon.org petition against wobbly Democrats on the deal. They call on progressive Americans to commit to a “donor strike,” not to give money to any of the Democrats “who risk taking us to war.” Great.

Collectively, we’re just as powerful as the billionaires running [the anti-Iran Deal] ads

But notice who Cohen and Greenfield blame for pushing those wobbly Dems against the deal: “lobbyists and billionaires [who] plan to spend over $40 million.” Well it’s up to as much as $100 million, but Ben and Jerry just can’t mention who’s spending this money on ads, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other Israel lobby organizations. And AIPAC pushed for “regime change” in Iraq war back in 2002, right alongside Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Ben and Jerry don’t want to think about that part, because they are the very definition of PEP, Progressive Except Palestine. The company they started and that bears their name has a big plant in Israel, and sells ice cream all through the Israeli colonies on the West Bank. A Vermont-based peace organization, Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel, has called for a boycott of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream because of its complicity in the occupation.

While [the 2014 Gaza] massacre of innocents was being carried out, Ben & Jerry’s “peace & love” ice cream was passing through checkpoints, being transported on Jewish-only roads, and being marketed and sold in illegal and expanding Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem….

VTJP… implored Ben & Jerry’s to take the incremental, but morally and politically significant, action of issuing a statement in opposition to Israel’s occupation and settlements.
The company even refused this request

The company Ben & Jerry’s has responded with a mealy-mouthed appeal for “cross-cultural understanding,” which has never really been a good antidote to oppression. No wonder they can’t call out AIPAC. They’re generally on AIPAC’s side.

Here’s the founders’ appeal on the Iran Deal, from Facebook:

It’s Ben and Jerry, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Will you sign this petition?
Dear fellow MoveOn member,

It’s Ben and Jerry, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. We’re writing today about keeping America out of another war in the Middle East.

Lobbyists and billionaires plan to spend over $40 million to stop the diplomatic deal with Iran—the one the Obama Administration negotiated to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.1 That’s dangerous, because if too many Democrats listen to the flood of hawkish, misinformation-ridden TV ads—and if they vote with Republicans—they could override the president’s agreement in just about a month.

This agreement is the only peaceful way to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. And it’s a critical test for what sort of nation we’re going to be. As Senator Bernie Sanders says, “the test of a great nation is not how many wars it can engage in, it is how it can resolve international conflicts in a peaceful manner.”2

It may seem hard to fight back against $40 million in spending and win. But MoveOn has found a way. It’s called a “donor strike”—a pledge to not give money to Democrats who risk taking us to war, and to the party committees (like the DSCC) that support them.

We just joined MoveOn’s “donor strike”, and we hope you will too. Signing the petition takes just 30 seconds, and it sends an incredibly powerful message.

Click here to sign the petition. Join us in pledging to withhold contributions from Democrats who sabotage diplomacy with Iran.

MoveOn members collectively contribute boatloads of money to Democrats each year—mostly in modest chunks like $5, $25, or $50. But it adds up to millions.
That’s why a petition pledging not to contribute a dime to any Democrats who put us on a path to war—or party committees that support them (like the DSCC)—will send a powerful message.

Click here to add your name. Pledge to withhold contributions from Democrats if they undermine diplomacy with Iran and put us on a path to war.

More than 25,000 of us have signed this pledge already, pledging to withhold $11 million in contributions. Now, just imagine if 100,000 or 200,000 of us sign … Together, we could pledge to withhold $40 million—the amount that’s being spent on negative TV ads!

Collectively, we’re just as powerful as the billionaires running these ads, if we flex our muscles and make our voices heard.

Signing the petition will take you about 30 seconds. Are you in?

Click here to add your name. Tell Democrats you won’t give them your money if they vote to put us on a path to war.

This deal is a victory for our national security, the American people, and folks around the world. It resolves a big-time global security concern without resorting to dropping bombs for ten years. (Think Iraq.)

If the Senate overrides President’s Obama’s Iran deal, it risks putting us on a path toward war. But despite that—and despite thousands of phone calls, petitions, and meetings—we’re still FOUR VOTES SHORT of what we need to stop the Senate from doing just that, according to media reports.3

Click here to sign the petition. Join us in pledging to withhold contributions from Democrats who sabotage diplomacy with Iran.

The bottom line is this: This agreement is the only way to keep us off a path to war.Major national security experts, our nation’s top military brass, President Obama, John Kerry, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and a whole host of others all agree: the alternative to this diplomatic agreement with Iran would be war.

War means American women and men in uniform will die. It means tens of thousands of civilians will perish. And it means billions—maybe trillions—of taxpayer dollars (which should go to things like green energy development, health care, or schools) will be drained from the federal budget.

You know who would love that? Big military contractors and their armies of lobbyists. But the rest of us would be in deep, deep trouble.

Hell no. Will you join us in sending a not-to-be-missed message to Democrats in Congress by committing to withhold contributions from any Democrat who succeeds in sabotaging President Obama’s diplomatic agreement with Iran?

Click here to sign the petition. Tell Democrats you won’t give them your money if they vote to put us on a path to war.
Thanks for all you do.

–Ben & Jerry

Update: This post originally said that Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are still associated with the ice cream company that bears their names. The men sold 15 years ago. 

Thanks to Annie Robbins.

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An excellent idea. I am so glad that B&J is making such a strong stand and risking a lot to help “persuade” the Democrats to do the right thing. I wish someone did this long time ago. Now let members of congress openly show the people who vote for them,… Read more »

Ben and Jerry’s has responded with a mealy-mouthed appeal for “cross-cultural understanding,” which has never really been a good antidote to oppression. No wonder they can’t call out AIPAC. They’re generally on AIPAC’s side. Unfortunately, that must be true if they are working in the Settlements and see cross cultural… Read more »

Props to them for supporting the deal.

Although it should be said that most people, including the opponents, now concede that Obama has the votes needed. So their support comes a lot later than when it was really needed.

And as you said, they are the very definition of PEP.

Not sure the $100 million number is correct. It’s not sourced in the articles you linked. Jacob Kornbluh’s article is the only one I’ve seen that makes the claim, and he hasn’t provided a source for it.

OK, I’m confused. My understanding is that Ben and Jerry sold their ice cream company to a conglomerate many years ago. Is this wrong? If I am correct, I don’t think they can be held responsible for the ice cream being manufactured in the West Bank and sold all over… Read more »