Ben & Jerry’s in Israel

Stop celebrating ‘victory’ over Ben & Jerry’s

Opinion: Ice cream saga reflects how BDS graduated from targeting Israeli economy to mission of eliminating Israel and stigmatizing Jews; maybe one day we can get a Ben & Jerry’s flavor called 'Bye-Bye BDS'

The Media Line |
Published: 07.21.22, 13:38
With celebrations just short of dancing in the streets, you’d think that resuming sales of a brand of ice cream under humiliating restrictions marks the end of antisemitism.
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  • As if multinational giant Unilever has been brought to its knees, and the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement has been defeated, decimated, buried alive. The only accurate part of that is “alive.”
    5 View gallery
    מכירה של גלידת בן אנד ג'ריס בירושלים
    מכירה של גלידת בן אנד ג'ריס בירושלים
    Ben & Jerry’s in Israel
    (Photo: AFP)
    Seven years ago, I wrote an article calling BDS “the world’s best failure.” That’s because BDS isn’t about boycotting, divesting from, or sanctioning Israel at all. It’s about eliminating Israel and stigmatizing Jews. They’re doing just fine at that, often with the help of their Jewish targets, who celebrate victories that are actually diversions.
    Every time a celeb visits Israel, a Facebook friend of mine posts the joyous fact and adds, “BDS in the trash.” I wish.
    Let’s look at this systematically: first, the B&J fiasco; then, the “failure”; then, what really matters.

    Ice cream ‘victory’

    The ice cream saga began when the board of B&J ruled that its ice cream could no longer be sold across the Green Line – that’s to say, to Israelis living there.
    Let’s look at the B&J board. It was purposely made up of radical intersectionalists, those who believe that the world is made up exclusively of oppressors and oppressed, all the oppressed are glued together, and the Jews are obviously in the other camp. The sales ban clearly follows that ideology since it is well known that Israel is a serial oppressor of the poor, victimized Palestinians, who have turned down at least two concrete proposals for peace with Israel according to their own demands. Oh, wait, that last part doesn’t fit the narrative, so let’s just go back and erase that.
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    מפעל הייצור של בן אנד ג'ריס בבאר טוביה
    מפעל הייצור של בן אנד ג'ריס בבאר טוביה
    Ben & Jerry’s factory in Israel
    (Photo: AP)
    Reacting, anti-BDS activists, most of them Jews, took to social media to moan and groan while calling for a boycott of B&J (of course) and all of Unilever, B&J’s owner. And whaddya know, they “won.” B&J is back on sale over here.
    A glorious victory? It’s not. It appears that people either don’t know or don’t care that:
    • The ice cream will be sold here without the B&J logo, without its trademark, even without any English on the label at all.
    • The ice cream isn’t even B&J – the parent company sold the brand to its Israeli franchise holders, but without the brand.
    • The B&J board continues its campaign, slandering Israel and even suing Unilever to get its talons back into the ice cream made by its former Israeli franchise holder.
    5 View gallery
    מפעל הייצור של בן אנד ג'ריס ביבנה
    מפעל הייצור של בן אנד ג'ריס ביבנה
    Ben & Jerry’s factory in Israel
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    So this isn’t a win. It’s a CYA for Unilever to remove the burr from under its saddle without cutting the weeds that produced the burr – namely, the B&J board, even though it clearly cares little about business and profit. A famous Israel advocacy group actually called this the best solution, since everybody wins.
    No. This is a zero-sum game. Any win for BDS is a loss for Israel and the Jewish people.

    The most successful failure

    Looking at the stated BDS goals, the second two are easy. In the 17 years since BDS was formed, there have been no sanctions and precious little divestment (though whenever some university or union pulls out a few dollars, it gets 3-inch-high headlines).
    But what about the boycott, the big BDS headliner? Bans on buying anything Israeli? As many have pointed out, if you do that, you better throw out your cellphone, and if you keep it, you better at least uninstall Waze and lots of other apps that came from the (gasp) Jewish state. And forget some of those advanced medicines you’ve been using, like the ones that saved the life of that well-known pro-Israel, Zionist wannabe Jimmy Carter.
    5 View gallery
    אפליקציית ווייז
    אפליקציית ווייז
    Waze
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    All that aside, here are the facts: Except for 2009, when the U.S. pushed the world into a global downturn, and the aftermath of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (also not the doing of BDS), Israel’s exports have climbed steadily year by year. In fact, they’ve nearly doubled during the “reign” of BDS.
    So that’s the failure part.

    Success

    I started that 2015 article with a fake resignation letter from the CEO of BDS, admitting failure in all three initials. The equally fake reply from the BDS board rejected his resignation because “it is true that BDS has failed miserably in its stated goals, but it has, under your direction, become a world force in anti-Israel activity. Some even credit us with starting a new wave of anti-Semitism. We don’t know how you did it but keep doing it.”
    If anything, the last seven years have reinforced that conclusion. BDS, under the guidance of chief hypocrite Omar Barghouti, has graduated from trying to get people to stop buying Jaffa oranges to delegitimizing Israel any way it can, especially with outright lies.
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    A BDS Tshirt
    A BDS Tshirt
    (Photo: AFP)
    Barghouti, by the way, that paragon of anti-Israel activism, boycotts, demonstrations, speeches, and rallies, is a Qatari married to an Israeli Arab. He has a master’s degree from Tel Aviv University and is pursuing a doctorate at that university, which symbolizes modern Israel and its accomplishments.
    Nice.
    But never mind the facts. Barghouti’s BDS gang is hard at work spreading lies about Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. Figures and facts show that Israelis are so bad at those crimes, it’s as if they’re not really trying, but as I said…

    Never mind the facts

    We are in a post-fact universe. We need to know the facts for our own good, but “countering” the lies with facts is a waste of time. Once the lie is out there, it’s too late. We need to work on ways to keep the lie from getting out there.
    I am not now advocating, nor have I ever advocated violence. There are nonviolent ways to silence these disgusting hatemongers or at least force them to spend their money on cybersecurity, for example, instead of spreading their poison.
    Education, of course, is an important element of a counter-campaign, but it’s not the only one. Venting on Facebook and Twitter feels good but for the most part, people talk to fellow members of their own political or social group. So, beyond the good feeling, it doesn’t help much.
    Should there be a counterdemonstration across the street from every single BDS demonstration? Absolutely. Should their speakers be heckled and harassed? For sure. Should they feel the need for bodyguards and security? Why not? Should they have to hire expensive cybersecurity firms to stop their websites from constant hacking, DNS attacks, and viruses? You bet.
    Those are the areas in which anti-BDS activists need to be seen (or not seen). Then maybe one day we can get a Ben & Jerry’s flavor called “Bye-Bye BDS.”

    The story was written by Mark Lavie and reprinted with permission from The Media Line.
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