The Illinois Investment Policy Board, which is tasked with “ensuring the investment of public money does not occur in entities that are prohibited from investment by Illinois law,” is planning to set a 90-day deadline for Unilever, owner of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, to reverse its decision to boycott Israeli communities, Andy Lappin, the board’s chairman, told the Associated Press on Thursday.
“We’ll meet in the next week or so just for this issue, asking the board to send a letter to Unilever giving it 90 days to confirm or deny” the decision to boycott Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
“In this case, it was a blatantly open statement made by the chairman of Ben & Jerry’s and we need to determine if Unilever deems it appropriate to walk the statement back,” Lappin said.
The board’s schedule notes that the Illinois Investment Policy Board committee on Israel boycott restrictions will meet at 11:40 AM, Wed, September 9, 2021.
Meanwhile, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey tweeted that Ben & Jerry’s decision to join the BDS movement “is discrimination,” adding, “Arizona stands with Israel,” and “will not do business with a company that boycotts Israel — in 2016 and 2019 I signed bills to make sure of it.”
Ben & Jerry’s founders, Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, on Wednesday, published a lengthy op-ed in the NY Times, siding with the company they had sold in 2000, in which they argued that the fact that “we support the company’s decision is not a contradiction nor is it anti-Semitic. In fact, we believe this act can and should be seen as advancing the concepts of justice and human rights, core tenets of Judaism.”
Cohen and Greenfield also insisted that “the company’s stated decision to more fully align its operations with its values is not a rejection of Israel. It is a rejection of Israeli policy, which perpetuates an illegal occupation that is a barrier to peace and violates the basic human rights of the Palestinian people who live under the occupation. As Jewish supporters of the State of Israel, we fundamentally reject the notion that it is anti-Semitic to question the policies of the State of Israel.”
This reporter is not sure Israel could take much more support from progressive Jews in the US and the world. Perhaps they should find somewhere else to support.
Not surprisingly, that beacon of Jewish thought, the Seattle-based Tikkun Olam blog, slammed the two elderly ice cream makers from Vermont for not going far enough, meaning, why boycott only the Jews of Judea and Samaria? What about the Jews of Tel Aviv?
Richard Silverstein, the blog’s creator, who describes himself as a “progressive (critical) Zionist” who supports an “Israeli withdrawal to pre-67 borders and an internationally guaranteed peace agreement with the Palestinians,” opined:
The piece, with the testosterone-infused slogan-title, We’re Ben and Jerry. Men of Ice Cream, Men of Principle, does little to end the controversy and is far from the demands of the Palestine rights groups which have been lobbying for a decade for a full company boycott of Israel. That’s why, instead of associating themselves with feel-good products and slogans like ice cream” and “principles,” their argument was cloying, sentimental treacle.
And speaking of support, after the NY Post hailed Joel Gasman, the owner of a Ben & Jerry’s store on the Upper West Side who pledged to donate 10% of his profits to Israeli causes, the newspaper reported that “New Yorkers flock to pro-Israel Ben & Jerry’s after West Bank boycott slumps sales.”
According to the Post, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of the New York Times bestseller Rebbe, a biography of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, came to Gasman’s store on Thursday for a scoop and a show of support. “I’m very happy that they made this decision [to donate] because there is a name for people who don’t want to do business with Jews, and the name is anti-Semite,” Telushkin said.
How about that for a Shabbat takeaway?