Most everybody knows that Ben & Jerry’s makes premium ice cream and champions “Peace” and “Love.” What they don’t know is that this socially responsible business and strong supporter of Occupy Wall Street is making ice cream in Israel and selling it in illegal settlements in Occupied Palestine.
Progressive Except for Palestine
Ben & Jerry’s business practices are tethered to a vibrant Social Mission that commits it to
…meet human needs and eliminate injustices in our local, national and international communities by integrating these concerns into out day-to-day business activities.
…seek and support nonviolent ways to achieve peace and justice.
…show a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.
Sadly, Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission seems not to apply to Occupied Palestine. Based on an investigation in 2011, Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine Israel (www.vtjp.org) learned that the company is selling ice cream in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and has plans to increase the number of scoop shops in Israel. The company’s also runs an ice cream factory near Kiryat Malachi—like virtually all Israeli towns and cities, it was built on lands confiscated from a Palestinian village forcibly de-populated in 1948.
Trucks that distribute Ben & Jerry’s ice cream travel seamlessly from the factory gates, down the forgotten roads of the Nakba, then on super highways that have systematically eviscerated the “Green Line,” circumventing military checkpoints and roadblocks that torment Palestinians, to arrive at markets in Jewish settlements entrenched on stolen Palestinian land—places like Gilo, Pisgat Ze’ev, Ma’ale Admumim and Mishor Adumim. One of our activists visited these locations in 2011 and found Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for sale. With assistance from a Jewish-Israeli compatriot, we also discovered that Jewish settlers can order a party cart with catering services from the factory.
Ben & Jerry’s is not the most egregious corporate offender in Palestine. But unlike those that are, it has a genuine Social Mission, one with a respectable track record and moral currency that cannot be reconciled with Zionist occupation and colonization. Doing business in Israel and the occupied territory—even the business of ice cream—adds credibility to a racist, violent and unjust status quo. Ben & Jerry’s commercial ventures help “normalize” life for the occupying power and its settlers at a time when millions of Palestinians are denied the right to live normally because, and only because, they are not Jewish.
A Time to Act: Ending Ben & Jerry’s Complicity in Israel’s Occupation
On March 14, 2013, VTJP is launching an international campaign calling on solidarity activists and people of conscience to contact Ben & Jerry’s and urge it to take the following measures until Israel terminates its military occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands in compliance with international law:
1. End the marketing, sales and catering of Ben & Jerry’s products in Israel and Jewish-only settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
2. Stop manufacturing ice cream in Israel.
3. Issue a statement calling (a) for an end to Israel’s occupation and settlement enterprise and (b) appealing directly to other socially responsible companies to do likewise and to end business operations in Israel and its illegal settlements.
Here is how individuals and organizations can help:
1. Read and circulate our report, Peace, Love & Occupation, about Ben & Jerry’s complicity in Israel’s occupation at www.vtjp.org/icecream.
2. Please endorse this campaign. To do so, just send VTJP an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Sign a petition at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/641/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=12624.
4. Send an e-mail to Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim at www.vtjp.org/icecream/petition.php.
5. Leaflet at Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops on “Free Cone Day.” We’ll let you know when it is. We’ve prepared a leaflet you can use at http://www.vtjp.org/icecream/freecone-trifold.pdf.
6. Donate to our campaign. Send a check to Peace & Justice Center, 60 Lake St., #1C Burlington, VT05401. IMPORTANT: Write “VTJP” in the memo line.
Ben & Jerry’s CEO, Jostein Solheim, said in an interview:
“The world needs dramatic change to address the social and environmental challenges we are facing. Values led businesses can play a critical role in driving that positive change. We need to lead by example, and prove to the world that this is the best way to run a business.”
It’s time for Palestine to be one of the beneficiaries of “dramatic” and “positive” change.” Ben & Jerry’s can help make that possible by severing its commercial ties to Israel, to its military occupation and to its illegal settlement regime.
Read VTJP’s report here: http://www.vtjp.org/icecream/VTJP_Report_Peace_Love_and_Occupation.pdf