Technically “they” are not the ones who sell the ice cream. Their company is now owned by Unilever. But they are still involved and support the decision made this summer to stop selling Ben & Jerry’s in the West Bank. They even defended it in an editorial published in July titled, er, “We’re Ben and Jerry. Men of ice cream, men of principles “.
Axios interviewed them to test that proposal. How principled am I?
Not enough principles to answer elementary questions about how they draw their moral distinctions, it turns out.
Alexi McCammond has been kind to them by comparing their stance on Israel with their stance on Georgia’s voting law and the near-abortion ban in Texas. He could have called them out for their parent company doing business with some truly repulsive foreign regimes. But his analogy prompts them to try to explain why they felt compelled to seek outrages against progressivism abroad, in Israel, instead of addressing them here at home. I think he’s cunningly pointing out that their rigid social principles may falter at the thought of giving up the huge and fantastically lucrative US market. You won’t lose much by boycotting a small part of a small nation like Israel. But you risk losing a lot by choosing a culture war battle with the state of Texas and American conservatives more generally.
They are men of ice cream and men of principle, but only until the principle begins to significantly affect ice cream sales.
This clip went viral due to how unprepared Ben Cohen is to defend his stance on Israel in the face of this. Apparently, he didn’t spend five minutes of real thinking on these matters.
The money line there (in every respect): “According to this reasoning, we shouldn’t sell any ice cream anywhere.” You must choose your points when reporting virtue to fellow travelers on the left. I assume his calculation is a simple cost-benefit analysis to maximize progressive brownie points while minimizing the impact on revenue. Fighting with Israel is ideal as it is a relentless target of leftist prejudice and also small enough not to lose lost sales.
McCammond could have taken it by the throat, though, reminding them of who he does business with Unilever. Jerry Greenfield tries to distinguish Israel from Georgia and Texas by arguing that only the former is violating international law, but this is not an answer. Unilever operates in China, after all, also selling ice cream there. And that’s not all:
Unilever is a British consumer goods multinational headquartered in London, UK. It has an annual turnover of $ 61 billion (£ 45 billion) and its products are available in over 190 countries. It also maintains corporate offices in numerous countries that violate human rights, including China, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Unilever is reportedly a major buyer of tomato paste from state-owned factories in China’s Xinjiang region, where the US State Department says China is involved in “horrific abuses.” In January 2021, the US government stopped importing all of this tomato paste into the US, citing the use of forced labor which was tantamount to “exploiting modern slavery.” Yet neither Unilever nor Ben & Jerry’s seem to have ever taken action against China’s massive human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
It’s hard to say why Unilever is more concerned about selling ice cream in settlements in the West Bank than about exploiting forced labor in Xinjiang, yet the company’s board members and senior executives have a long string of criticisms of the Jewish state. . Jeff Furman, chairman of the board of directors of the Ben & Jerry Foundation and former chairman of the works council, visited the West Bank in 2012 on a tour organized by a group of activists who supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Furman also signed a letter condemning Israeli military operations in Gaza, but he never mentioned Hamas, the terrorist organization that runs Gaza. Furthermore, he called for an end to US aid to Israel and falsely claimed that Palestinians endure “apartheid living conditions”.
There are human rights violations in Brazil, Malaysia and even the UAE, and Ben & Jerry’s is being sold in those countries. Why? And why didn’t the “men of principle” use their influence within the company to persuade Unilever to divest from China and stop selling products?
Well, because the calculation would change in that case. Human rights abuses in China are immense, but so is their market of over a billion consumers, and Unilever sells them far more than ice cream. Compared to Beijing, they are in the same position as the NBA, Hollywood and virtually every other American industry: the financial cost of boycotting China is too high, so they choose to bear the moral cost of looking the other way.
What you vividly get from the brief exchange in the clip above is how superficial and bizarre much of the progressive contempt for Israel is. This is not to downplay its more sinister elements, which smuggle anti-Semitism under the cover of “anti-colonialism,” but I don’t get the feeling that Cohen is being driven by the animus. He simply absorbed the wisdom he received from his side that Israel is somehow uniquely evil and has never been asked to question it before. Too bad for him that the first time it happened in front of the camera.
[ https://rocetoday.com/ben-jerry-is-still-refusing-to-sell-their-ice-cream-to-israel-i-bet-they-sell-it-in-iran/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ben-jerry-is-still-refusing-to-sell-their-ice-cream-to-israel-i-bet-they-sell-it-in-iran https://d26toa8f6ahusa.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/30214746/a-quiet-place-part-2-bigs-16.pdf