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An Open Letter to the Board of Directors of Ben & Jerry’s

 
Filed under: BDS and Delegitimization

An Open Letter to the Board of Directors of Ben & Jerry’s
The homepage of Ben & Jerry’s Israeli franchise: “Ben & Jerry’s Continues to Sell in All of Israel” (https://www.benjerry.co.il/)

Dear Board Members of Ben & Jerry’s,

In today’s ruthless, global, cut-throat business environment, it is impressive to see your company’s accentuation on social justice causes as a foundation for maintaining brand integrity and corporate core values, as well as improving the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally. Advancing such values as human rights and dignity, supporting social and economic justice, and protecting and restoring the Earth’s natural systems – all have the potential of rendering the taste and quality of your ice-cream products more palatable, both literally and figuratively.

However, your product and branding have a bitter and even toxic taste now that it is evident that your noble values are tainted by naïve or deliberate misinformation, manipulation, and political pressure of agenda-driven groups and individuals, or by a prevailing, consistently held and discriminatory political fixation entertained by members of your Board.

The taste of your product becomes sour, its brand integrity flawed, and its quality polluted.

To claim that your company and its founders are based on principle and integrity is regrettably misleading.

Your decision to end business in “Occupied Palestinian Territory” is based on what you perceive to be the notion that “a majority of the international community, including the United Nations, deems to be an illegal occupation.” 

But this premise is patently inaccurate, mistaken, and misleading, since it relies on non-obligatory UN General Assembly resolutions adopted by an automatic and political majority that cannot claim to determine the legality or illegality of Israel’s presence in the territory.

On the contrary, your decision ignores the legally acknowledged fact that the Palestinians themselves and Israel have agreed in the internationally sanctioned Oslo Accords to divide the governance of the territories between them, pending completion of their mutual negotiation on the permanent status of the territories.

Your determination that the territories are “illegally occupied” and are “Palestinian” is simply wrong and presumes to prejudge the outcome of the agreed-upon negotiation process and predetermine their legal status. As such, your reasoning for ending business in these areas is based on a false premise and runs counter to the Palestinians’ own wishes and legal obligations in the Oslo Accords.

Your additional reason for ending business in the territories, that Israel’s policies “violate basic human rights of the Palestinian people,” is also based on flawed, wildly biased, and misleading propaganda pushed by curious, fringe movements such as “Vermonters for Justice in Palestine,” Oakland Institute, and others that appear to be manipulating your decisions.

Such elements openly peddle in irresponsible, one-sided, and misleading propaganda against Israel on the flawed and spurious assumption that ending Israel’s occupation – or Israel’s very existence will – in and of itself, bring about peace.

They choose to ignore the realities of the situation in the Middle East and the extent and volume of Palestinian terror and violence directed against Israel’s civilian population through the indiscriminate firing of rockets, deliberate pollution of Israel’s atmosphere by massive burning of tires, deliberate launching of incendiary balloons into Israel’s territory to cause civilian casualties, burn fields, orchards, agricultural produce, as well as killing wildlife.

Who Cares about Terrorism’s Environmental Pollution?

One might have expected that an environmentally conscious company like Ben & Jerry’s would be concerned by such blatant Palestinian humanitarian, environmental, and agricultural violations.

Above all, one might have expected that Ben & Jerry’s would take into account that any progress toward peace between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples can come about only as a result of bona fide negotiation between them and a genuine political will to achieve peace.

Peace cannot be advanced through adhering to the irresponsible directives of the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, whose aims are the undermining of Israel’s very existence. It cannot be advanced through a one-sided, discriminatory commercial boycott by Ben & Jerry’s that achieves nothing more than to send an encouraging message to the Palestinian leadership by proffering support for their continuing hostility and intransigence.

Your action will not advance peace by one iota by permitting yourself to be manipulated. You are not only depriving a warm and willing population of a product that it has always loved, but you are also threatening the livelihood of loyal and devoted workers, mostly from immigrant families as well as from among the Palestinian population of Israel and the territories.

Despite any honest and noble intentions that you claim to have, and whether you intend or not, you are unavoidably labelling yourselves as an openly anti-Israel company. The actions you are taking are distinctly and solely directed against Israel and as such are inherently discriminatory. They do not represent the realization of similar values vis-à-vis other countries to which you supply your product, countries that have serious human rights records.

Through such discrimination and singling-out of Israel, you are allowing yourselves, possibly unintentionally, to be perceived by the many elements in international society that harbor a strong hostility towards Israel and the Jewish People, as meriting the regrettable and ugly blemish of anti-Semitism.

Sincerely,

Alan Baker