A Lesson from Ben & Jerry’s Old and Foul Flavor
A few days ago, on July 19, the multinational consumer goods company Unilever, which is also the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, announced that “it is inconsistent with [their] values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).” Although officially, Ben & Jerry’s belongs to Unilever, in truth, the company maintains its own policy when it comes to political issues. According to an essay in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Cohen and Greenfield, the progressive Jews who founded the Vermont based company, “attempted to achieve [political autonomy] by negotiating the creation of an independent and robust board for the post-acquisition subsidiary.” Indeed, to date, Ben & Jerry’s Independent Board of Directors has complete freedom when it comes to political statements, even when these affect the company’s commercial activity, as in this case.
The fact that two Jews are leading a campaign against Israel is actually natural; it’s a reflection of their aversion from their duty to the world. It will not help them. German Jews held the same views before Hitler came to power, but it didn’t help them whatsoever once the Nazis came to power. Now, too, the anti-Israel agenda will not help American Jews; the local antisemites will deal with them the same as the Nazis did under Hitler.
Moreover, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), “The board’s chairwoman, Anuradha Mittal, was furious with Unilever’s response, telling NBC that Unilever was ‘trying to destroy the soul of the company. We want this company to be led by values and not be dictated by the parent company.’” Mittal was not mad at Unilever for banning a part of Israel. On the contrary, according to The Jerusalem Post, “Ben & Jerry’s Independent Board of Directors wanted to boycott Israel in its entirety, but was stopped from doing so by the ice-cream maker’s CEO and the British-based parent company Unilever.”
In other words, Ben & Jerry’s old and foul flavor is “hatred of the Jewish state.” They don’t think that Israel has a right to exist, and they cloak their agenda with a mantle of “social justice.” But this is not about justice; it is a reflection of the objection of many Jews, particularly in the US, to the existence of a Jewish state.
In my view, there are two levels to relate to the company’s declaration. The first level is the superficial one: The contract with Ben & Jerry’s has no item that specifies restrictions of sales in particular parts of the country, for whatever reason. Therefore, this demand is a breach of contract, and the State of Israel should respond resolutely by banning the sales of Ben & Jerry’s products throughout Israel. Instead of the franchise to manufacture and distribute the ice-cream in Israel, the Israeli licensee will sell its own ice-cream or sign a contract with another multinational company. In short, if they go political against Israel, Israel should go political against them.
But the deeper level is the more important one. The fact that two Jews are leading a campaign against Israel is actually natural; it’s a reflection of their aversion from their duty to the world. It will not help them. German Jews held the same views before Hitler came to power, but it didn’t help them whatsoever once the Nazis came to power. Now, too, the anti-Israel agenda will not help American Jews; the local antisemites will deal with them the same as the Nazis did under Hitler.
There is nothing that Jews will not give to the nations of the world in return for some sympathy. They will give up their identity, tradition, history, sovereignty, anything to get the world to like them. But all those “gifts” that the Jews are willing to bestow upon the world increase the division within the Jewish people and intensify the world’s hatred toward us. If we could rise above our differences and unite for just one day, we would see that this is what the world actually wants from us: our own unity, and not any other gifts.
Moreover, if we united, the world would understand why the Jews need their own country: to create a place where they can unite above their rifts and set an example of love that covers all the crimes, as King Solomon wrote (Proverbs 10:12). The reason that some Jews don’t want a sovereign State of Israel to exist, even if it were established in a completely undisputed territory, is that subconsciously, they don’t want the onus of being a role model nation, a trailblazing enterprise that unites people of all cultures, ethnicities, and faiths under an umbrella ideology of unity above all else. This was the ideology that forged the peoplehood of our ancestors, this is the reason why “Love your neighbor as yourself” is the motto that encompasses the whole of the Torah, and this is the onus of the Jews: to set an example by implementing this most sublime creed in existence, the system of uniting complete strangers “as one man with one heart.” Those Jews who deny Israel’s right to exist are trying to avoid endowing the world with this most precious gift.
For more on this topic, refer to the book The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism, Historical facts on anti-Semitism as a reflection of Jewish social discord.