Ben & Jerry’s founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield admitted in an interview with Axios that money is the main reason they don’t boycott sales in states whose policies they disagree with, in the context of their Israel boycott enacted in July.
Axios reporter Alexi McCammond pressed Cohen and Greenfield on their decision to not sell in Israel, but to continue selling in states that have been deemed problematic by Democrats, such as Georgia with its new voting laws, or Texas with its ban on abortions after a heartbeat is detected.
“I don’t know,” shrugged Cohen. “I mean – It’s an interesting question. I don’t know what that would accomplish. We’re working on those issues, of voting rights, and… I don’t know. You know, I mean – I think you ask a really good question. And, I think, I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit [….] By that reasoning, we should not sell any ice cream anywhere. I’ve got issues with what’s being done in most every state and most every country.”
At that point, Greenfield attempted to distinguish Israel’s actions from those of other states by claiming that Israel’s actions were illegal under international law. Perspectives on the legality of Israel’s settlement along the West Bank have long been divided. In 2019, previous Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assessed that their settlement wasn’t inconsistent with international law entirely, citing perspectives from strong leadership in the past such as previous President Ronald Reagan.
Cohen had made it clear earlier in the interview that a total boycott against all things they disagreed with politically wasn’t an option. McCammond had asked Cohen and Greenfield why they didn’t stop selling their product completely to protest Israel. Though Cohen said that wasn’t feasible, he didn’t offer any further explanation as to why.
“I disagree with the U.S. policy [but] we couldn’t stop selling in the U.S.,” said Cohen.
Cohen also disagreed with McCammond’s assertion that their boycott impacts Israel’s economy adversely.
“I don’t view it as withholding money – it’s just saying we don’t want our ice cream sold in the occupying territories,” stated Cohen. “[It doesn’t affect the economy] much. It’s a drop in the bucket.”
Ben & Jerry’s made up over 75 percent of Israel’s premium ice cream market share.
“So then is that really a big stand?” asked McCammond.
“It’s not a financial stance, it’s a policy stance,” asserted Cohen.
Greenfield then insinuated that Ben & Jerry’s political stances were influenced by their money-making potential.
“Ben & Jerry’s publicly supported Occupy Wallstreet, Black Lives Matter […] but over the years, the company continues to sell more ice cream and thrive,” explained Greenfield.
Greenfield also took issue with the characterization of their decision to stop selling their product in Israel as a “boycott,” which he says has caused states like Arizona and New Jersey to divest millions from Unilever.
“I think it’s largely based on misinformation,” asserted Greenfield. “I think Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever are being characterized as ‘boycotting Israel,’ which is not the case at all.”
Their initial announcement to end sales in “Occupied Palestinian Territory” does include the distinction that they aren’t boycotting Israel. The company justified its claim that their decision wasn’t a boycott by promising that it would “stay in Israel through a different business arrangement.” They have yet to announce this arrangement. However, their actions are a boycott by definition.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for The Daily Wire and AZ Free News. Have something you think the mainstream media won’t cover? Send tips to [email protected].
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