Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Gilad Erdan, has lashed out at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand. In particular, he focused on the two founders of Ben & Jerry’s, who recently defended the Unilever brand’s decision to stop selling ice cream in Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.
Erdan accused Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of “helping the anti-Semites”. He also said the “ignorance and hypocrisy” towards Israel in the recently aired HBO interview with the two founders is “a disgrace”. “Ben and Jerry have no problem with their ice cream being sold to terrorist supporters, yet they boycott Israel.”
The brand announced in July that it planned to stop selling its ice cream in the settlements. Ben & Jerry’s then said it was not in line with its own values to sell its products there. Shortly afterwards, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned that the company’s boycott plans would have “serious consequences.” It is not clear exactly what consequences Israel wants to attach to a boycott.
The two founders, who pointed out to HBO that they themselves are Jewish, have said it is absurd to accuse them of anti-Semitism. Nor would they be at all against the right to exist of the State of Israel. “We just didn’t want our ice cream to be sold in the occupied territories.” Cohen and Greenfield are no longer involved in the day-to-day running of Ben & Jerry’s. They sold the brand to Unilever more than twenty years ago. Within the laundry and food group, Ben & Jerry’s does have a far-reaching autonomy. The brand has also had an activist image for some time.