Ben & Jerry’s (B&J) generally is viewed as being a progressive company, and it has indeed supported many important causes.
However, for many, that view is changing due to B&J’s failure to live up to its Social Mission. This mission states: “To operate the company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally and internationally.”
It is hard to square this statement with the fact that B&J supports Israeli Jewish-only colonies in the military-occupied Palestinian West Bank. The problem with B&J’s support is that these Jewish-only colonies are illegal.
The Geneva Conventions on occupied lands prohibits the occupying power, in this case Israel, from transferring any of its population to the occupied lands (Palestinian lands). Israel, in blatant violation, has transferred about 580,000 Israeli Jews into the West Bank (including East Jerusalem). According to Bloomberg News, Israel has approved more than 120 colonies in the occupied West Bank. In addition, there are also now 12 neighborhoods for Jews in the East Jerusalem part of the West Bank as well as about 100 unofficial colonies throughout the Palestinian West Bank.
By allowing its products to be sold in these illegal Jewish-only colonies, B&J flouts international law and its mission statement. Selling ice cream may seem like a small matter, but it also represents B&J’s tacit support for the existence of these colonies on land stolen from Palestinians.
Activists in Vermont have brought this issue to B&J’s attention in meetings as well as through letters and protests. There is now an international campaign with 238 organizations in 20 countries calling on B&J to end its complicity with Israeli settlements. In May 2015, due to the company’s failure to pull its products from the colonies, the Vermont activists initiated a call for a boycott of B&J’s products in its franchise shops and other retail outlets.
The Middle East Collective of the Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center will be protesting Ben & Jerry’s on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder on its Free Cone Day on Tuesday from noon to 4 p.m. The store is on the east side of Broadway at Pearl. Please show your support for Palestinian human rights and international law by joining this protest. For more information, please contact Carolyn Bninski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday.