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

on 22 Comments

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 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.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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22 Responses

  1. Kay24 on September 1, 2015, 11:41 am

    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, that they do not mater, and that a foreign nation does. I hope other grassroots organizations also do the same.

    Here is Tom Cotton, yet another shameless agent of Israel, openly show support and loyalty for a despised war monger OVER his President and country. He speaks from from a foreign land.

    “Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, part of his weeklong trip to Israel. […]

    “Today’s meeting only reaffirms my opposition to this deal,” Cotton said in a statement after the meeting. “I will stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel and work with my colleagues in Congress to stop this deal and to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself against Iran and its terrorist surrogates.”
    The far-right freshman tweeted a photo of himself and the Israeli prime minister, noting their joint efforts in opposition to the international nuclear agreement with Iran.”

    I wish he would stay there. His love for Netanyahu far exceeds his loyalty to his President. :((

    • John Douglas on September 1, 2015, 1:33 pm

      Kay, I share your view of Tom Cotton. And beyond that he’s a self-promoter almost to the point of challenging Chuck Schumer’s crown in that regard. But it’s your final sentence I question. It’s not an issue of loyalty to President Obama. I’m disloyal to Obama on the matter of NSA spying. I think he’s wrong about that and I won’t support him on it. The issue of Cotton’s loyalty is a matter of loyalty to his country. As for Cotton loving Netanyahu, perhaps he does and maybe he even loves Israel, but I’d bet he loves his PAC contributors more than either of those.

      • Kay24 on September 1, 2015, 1:55 pm

        You make good points. Of course, you can disagree with the President. I do not agree with his drone program, and the resulting deaths of innocent civilians. However, in this case, Cotton is taking side of a war monger and his minions in the US, against the President and the rest of the world. This is an ugly example of siding with a liar who has no other deal to speak of, and we all know he will accept no deal. We have gone through enough unnecessary wars, which cost us trillions, and most importantly thousands of innocent lives in these unfortunate countries, and Cotton still wants us to continue with the policies pushed on us by Netanyahu and the zionists.
        There is some difference here. To go to the only nation against this deal and criticize not only the President but the rest of the world, is not only stupid, but showing us where his loyalties are.
        I do agree that it is primarily his need for shekels that makes him act so shamelessly.

    • Kay24 on September 1, 2015, 2:30 pm

      Looks like Obama is going to get the votes he needs to push this deal through:

      “Bob Casey and Chris Coons Bring Number of Senators Backing Iran Deal to 33
      President Obama nearly has the 34 votes needed to uphold presidential veto of the congressional resolution disapproving the agreement.”
      read more:

      Can we start calling Bibi “Boo Hoo Netanyahu” now?

      • inbound39 on September 3, 2015, 3:15 pm

        Kay…I think we can call him Boo Hoo Netanyahu anytime we like…..all he does is bleat like a sheep and play the victim most of the time while he happily victimizes Palestinians. An alternative name now given he is likely startled by his obvious trouncing is Hoo Noo Netanyahu!….lol

    • RobertHenryEller on September 2, 2015, 9:45 am

      How many millions in campaign contributions did Cotton-mouth gain from his trip to Israel?

      A real American patriot.

  2. W.Jones on September 1, 2015, 12:13 pm

    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 understanding as The Answer.

    Plenty of Israelis know Arabic, for example, although I think most don’t. Is that fixing things? If you were looking at a conflict where the powers involved were of equal force and they were not in a struggle for a massive mutually claimed resource, maybe the cross cultural understanding could be practically all that was needed.

  3. Krauss on September 1, 2015, 12:32 pm

    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.

  4. hophmi on September 1, 2015, 1:07 pm

    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.

    • Xpat on September 1, 2015, 1:57 pm

      Sounds like an endorsement of this article – aside from the question of how many tens of millions of dollars AIPAC and other Jewish orgs have committed to torpedo the U.S. deal with Iran.

      • inbound39 on September 3, 2015, 3:23 pm

        Given the millions AIPAC has committed to undermine the US Government they have foolishly made it quite clear to the American Public that they engage in subterfuge against America and all the Senators and other Government officials accepting money from AIPAC to do its bidding are also complicit and actively engaged in undermining the US Government. There is definitely a case for Treason and a case for banning AIPAC from operating in America along with its subsidiary ADL identifying them ofacting as Foreign Agents engaged in damaging the American Government. Time for Americans to demand these people are removed from Government positions and demand AIPAC and ADL are closed down.

  5. Mary T on September 1, 2015, 1:39 pm

    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 Israel. That said, they could probably be a little more out there in their support of the Iran deal and could mention AIPAC, but as my late father-in-law used to say, this is better than a sharp stick in the eye.

  6. Rusty Pipes on September 1, 2015, 6:15 pm

    Their message seems to be more in line with JStreet than with AIPAC. Like Bernie, they are talking about Billionaires, but not about a top agenda for the majority of Billionaires who give big bucks to the Democratic Party.

  7. JennieS on September 1, 2015, 6:20 pm

    Watching this US internecine warfare from afar is fascinating and somewhat amusing.

    There are seven current signatories to the agreement, China, France, Germany/(EU), Russia, UK and USA on one side and Iran on the other. A veto-proof “no” vote in the US Congress will remove the US as a party to the agreement but, believe it or not, have no effect on the other parties who are showing no signs of backing away. China, in particular, has the “New Silk Roads” project in which Iran has an important place. US machinations in Ukraine and the EU have pushed Russia back into a friendly relationship with China and the EU countries, France, Germany and the UK, are in no economic position to refuse a new trading partner. The recent reopening of UK and Iranian embassies in each other’s capitals is a sign of the times. US and Israeli warmongers wishing to launch an unjustified war on Iran are unlikely to be able to raise a new “coalition of the willing” and could face active resistance from China and Russia.

    • piotr on September 1, 2015, 7:30 pm

      Interesting article. Short summary from NYT: intrepid reporters could not finds opponents of the agreement with Iran in Europe, with semi-exceptions of members of Zionist Jewish organizations in France who knew better than go public with their “private misgivings”. And really, even if someone was rich enough and stupid enough to spend millions of Euros (or pounds etc.) on ads, it is hard to imagine any positive effects. Further east, in the lands where “paleo-anti-Semitism” is not on endangered species list yet, the effects would be outright toxic. So “no few just men” in the old Continent. It is quite possible that rejection of the mutually negotiated agreement could have serious consequences, namely a continental consensus that USA is in the hands of weirdoes and whackos, necessitating some new ways to render them harmless.

      It is not that the deal is of paramount importance to Europe, but USA reneging on the common position would add another stinking pile, and there is only so much that this camel can bear.

      • JennieS on September 2, 2015, 12:47 am

        Thanks for the link Piotr.

    • RoHa on September 2, 2015, 1:12 am

      “US machinations in Ukraine and the EU have pushed Russia back into a friendly relationship with China ”

      Russia’s friendly relations with China started long before the Ukraine mess.

  8. RobertHenryEller on September 2, 2015, 9:53 am

    Unfortunately, one has to distinguish between what the actual Ben and Jerry can do and what the corporate-owned Ben&Jerry’s will do.

    I doubt the real Ben and Jerry have any leverage over what the corporate Ben&Jerry’s does at this point.

    It may even be that they are constrained by their agreement when they sold the company from criticizing the corporate entity.

  9. David Doppler on September 2, 2015, 12:00 pm

    So not MW’s finest hour.

    B&J sold out 15 years ago, so the whole premise about selling in the West Bank is misdirected. Plus, B&J deserve credit for using their fame and name association to advance support for the Iran deal and (not necessarily without risk from those they sold their brand to – there could be contractual language about not damaging the name – potential exposure for violating it).

    And they promote a novel way for voters to tell their representatives that there will be negative consequences, and this, I think, is the key value: non-organized, non-billionaire Democratic donors are intensely frustrated that their representatives take all that money from AIPAC and their (loose) affiliates, and avoid saying or doing anything to offend them, to the point that small donors cannot compete. Congresspersons even ask small donors for money that will be matched by unnamed (and obviously heavy-giving) supporters, so the fear is you cannot support your own representative without further empowering his or her largest donors.

    You should include the moveon link in your article, so that your readers can join in that message:

    But thanks for publicizing B&J’s efforts. I’d otherwise have missed it.

    Oh, and everyone (since Voltaire) knows whose name cannot be spoken in criticism.

    • Xpat on September 2, 2015, 4:34 pm

      Thanks David for calling this out. I’m also unclear what the issue is here. From the “Ben and Jerrys in Israel” page:

      “We have no economic interest in the occupied territories.”

      The Vermont group criticizes Ben and Jerrys for having their products sold on West Bank settlements and for using the Jewish roads on the West Bank. I’m not sure how they know this as fact. Regardless, everybody uses those roads. It’s pretty much impossible to live in Israel-Palestine without crossing into the West Bank. The government has built roads and other infrastructure to bury the Green Line and create the one state reality. As for selling stuff in settler shops, I’m sure they sell Toblerone and other goodies somewhere on some settlement. Does that mean now I have to give up my chocolate?

  10. echinococcus on September 2, 2015, 7:08 pm

    Nonsense about shops in post-1967 occupied territories.
    They have shops anywhere in colonial-occupied Palestine, they should get boycotted!
    Otherwise, what kind of a *&^ boycott is that?
    Never bought anything from these guys and never will.

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