From time to time, a carton of Ben & Jerry’s lurks in our house. Mostly, one of the teenagers bought it secretly in an hour of need and tucked it away deep in the freezer, somewhere beyond the Green Line.
The decision by Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling its products in the “occupied Palestinian territories,” as the company put it, is absurd and insulting. How can children who are third-generation settlers on both their mother and father’s sides be “occupiers”? How are the native rights of my Jewish children, born in Judea and Samaria, different from the rights of Palestinian children? And how can Judea and Samaria be called “occupied Palestinian territory” if they were never under Palestinian sovereignty?
We should remind Ben & Jerry’s that Judea and Samaria were under illegal Jordanian occupation that was never recognized by the world. Before that, they were under the British Mandate established after World War I on the basis of the Balfour Declaration, the purpose of which was to establish a national home for the Jewish people in the entire Land of Israel.
So if anyone has historical and legal ties to this good and sweet land, which will remain such even without hostile ice cream, it’s the Jewish people.
To my great dismay, the decision by Ben & Jerry’s can be considered anti-Semitism. It is the result of an anti-Semitic internet campaign waged against them during Operation Guardian of the Walls.
The campaign and all the claims it makes are delusional (for example, that the chain sells freezers to Israel to store the bodies of Palestinian children.)
The ice cream chain froze in the face of the horrifying campaign, lowered its profile, and stopped posting on social media. Now it has officially caved to the campaign against it. Giving in to anti-Semitism is another form of anti-Semitism.
The government of Israel needs to respond harshly. It needs to announce that the anti-boycott law will be enacted against any importer who tries to bring this ice cream into the country in place of the current franchisee who has opposed stopping sales in Judea and Samaria. The law makes it possible to prevent importers who cooperate with boycotts of Judea and Samaria from competing for government tenders.
The authority to act under the law lies with the finance and justice ministers. Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s freezer is somewhere beyond the Green Line, too, and he must have a few grandkids who have a weakness for Ben & Jerry’s. Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s freezer might be located in the settlement of Tel Aviv, but his national Zionist worldview is well-known.
This is the time for them to prove that values don’t melt away easily.
Yifat Erlich is an Israeli journalist who lives in northern Samaria.