Ben and Jerry’s boycott hurts Palestinians

Ben and Jerry’s recently announced it would stop selling its ice cream in “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The decision has been met with harsh backlash from Israeli government officials, American Jewish groups, and even “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” (BDS) activists who claim the boycott does not go far enough. While so many are absorbed in this political outrage, few have considered the real negative impacts this move will have on Palestinians. Ben and Jerry’s decision to withdraw from the West Bank is nothing but performative activism, failing to help Palestinians in any meaningful way. In fact, it is actively harming us in the process.

Hen Israeli, vice president of the main Ben & Jerry’s ice cream distributor in the West Bank, has warned that this boycott will greatly harm Palestinian employees. He is vice president of the Sagi Group, which distributes around two tons of ice cream every week to Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Sagi Group employs Palestinians who receive good salaries and working conditions they would never be able to attain from the Palestinian Authority. Now, they will lose their jobs and be unable to support their families.

Ben and Jerry’s move will not be the first time boycotts against Israel have actively harmed Palestinians. After facing pressure from the same misguided BDS campaign, SodaStream moved from Mishor Admumim to a campus at the Idan Negev industrial area inside the Green Line. This move cost the jobs of around five hundred Palestinian employees. Nabil Basherat, a Palestinian who works as a manager at SodaStream, very succinctly told Israel Hayom that the “global BDS campaign has done the Palestinians more harm ‎than good.” In 2018, he said BDS pressure directly led to thousands of Palestinians losing their employment when the Mishor Adumim factory was shut down.

Corruption affects every aspect of life for Palestinians. It cripples our economy, making work hard to find. Companies deciding to boycott the area will only exacerbate this issue. Nadia Aloush, a Palestinian who works as a manager at the Mishor Admumim branch of the Rami Levy supermarket chain, expressed his frustration with this situation, “They want Rami Levy to close his stores, but I ask — ‎who will employ Palestinians instead? The Palestinian Authority ‎has failed to offer jobs to the Palestinians who worked in ‎SodaStream. I don’t understand why the world keeps donating ‎‎[to the PA] when it fails to even provide its people with jobs.” Addressing this corruption and incompetence would benefit Palestinians far more than boycotting Israel.

Ben and Jerry’s boycott will actively hurt the Palestinian people, just as previous BDS capitulations have. This should come as no surprise. The goals of these boycotts are never to help us. Ben and Jerry’s only cares about appeasing its left-wing consumers and the BDS trolls who attack them on social media. As usual, it’s my Palestinian brothers and sisters who will pay the price while these activists celebrate a “win”. The world should see the harm they cause us.

About the Author
Bassem Eid (born 5 February 1958) is a Palestinian living in Israel who has an extensive career as a Palestinian human rights activist. His initial focus was on human rights violations committed by Israeli armed forces, but for many years has broadened his research to include human rights violations committed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Palestinian armed forces on their own people. He founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group in 1996, although it ceased operations in 2011. He now works as a political analyst for Israeli TV and radio.
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