Yakov Saacks
Yakov Saacks

Ben & Jerry: Ultimate injustice



Rabbi Yakov Saacks, The Chai Center, Dix Hills, NY


Last week Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream made the following announcement.

“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”


The question that I have been asked multiple times throughout the week — is this anti- Semitism? Don’t they have a right to free speech? This is an opinion, etc.  After all, they have very strong values and do not like to see injustice. Period.



I think we need to clear this one up right away. Ben & Jerry’s happily sells their full ice cream products in Russia, which the last time I checked (today), Russia continues to illegally occupy Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea (26 081 km²), the city of Sevastopol (864 km²), certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (16799 km²) — in total 43744 km² or 7,2% of the territory of Ukraine. I have not heard anything about a boycott — have you? Not a word of protest. So, Ben & Jerry’s picks and chooses their battles of injustice. I wonder if this has anything to do with the amount of people buying their product instead of justice.


Moving on to the United Arab Emirates. While it is true that a woman may drive and vote, she does need explicit permission from her guardian. Admittedly, as far as women are concerned, they have come a long way. However, when it comes to LGBT causes, which are very important to activists like Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield, they are not allowed. In fact, it is illegal in the UAE to be gay. I wonder if their flavor of ice cream called “Hubby Hubby,” in celebration of the legalization of same-sex marriage in the company’s home state of Vermont, which features the image of two men in tuxedos getting married beneath a rainbow on the container, is being sold there. The bottom line is that you hear crickets from these two Jewish progressives. Nothing!


When it comes to Israel, all of a sudden Ben & Jerry’s rear their progressive head out of the sandbox and proclaim “no more.”

This is anti-Semitism at its apex. When you single out one group from many and attempt to denigrate them by a boycott or any other means negatively, then this is racist. If the one group happens to be Jews/Israelis, then this is anti-Semitism. There is no way around this argument.

My question therefore is; what is it with these Jews from Vermont? Where is their sense of fairness? Why the self-hate?


Ben & Jerry’s is not alone. Air BN’B tried this shtick as well only to recant a couple of months later after lawsuits started to come in. There are a handful of other obscure companies that still boycott Israel such as DNB ASA, Cactus SA, and FreedomCall Ltd. I say they will come around. Even Pepsi, which used to boycott Israel, ended up purchasing SodaStream, a very successful Israeli company, much to the chagrin of the BDS movement, I might add.


I wish to highlight the hypocrisy of not only companies, but also of famous individuals who boycott Israel. I once again maintain that although they say it is about justice, righteousness and fairness, I say nonsense, this is about anti-Semitism.

There are so many far-left thinkers who debase Israel time and time again from their comfy armchairs in their ivory towers. Fools such as mathematician David Klein, former Green Party Presidential nominee Jill Stein, or my favorite Sarah Schulman, a novelist and playwright and co-founder of the New York City activist organization called “The Lesbian Avengers.”


Is Sarah Schulman bothered that homosexuality and any kind of LGBT activity is illegal in the West bank and Gaza? “Section 152 of the Penal Code in Gaza criminalizes male consensual same-sex sexual activity and makes it punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.” (I wonder if there is a penal code for shooting off rockets on innocent civilians.) Then In 2019, the Palestinian Authority (i.e., West Bank) police banned the activities of queer and feminist rights organization Al Qaws and requested that residents report ‘suspicious’ activities. In addition, there is absolutely no law against harassing someone who is gay in these places.

Yet, Sarah is silent when it comes to harassment of gays and instead boycotts Israel. Insane, immoral and despicable. I bet you Sarah “the hypocrite” Schulman does not know that gay Palestinians frequently seek refuge in Israel fearing for their lives, especially fearing death from members of their own families. According to lawyer Shaul Gannon, from the Israeli LGBT organization The Aguda — Israel’s LGBT Task Force, around 2,000 Palestinian homosexuals live in Tel Aviv at any one time.


People like Ben & Jerry, Bernie Sanders and Sarah Schulman are perfidious and disloyal at best, and traitors to the Jewish people. They have neither moral code nor a sense of justice. They are simply bad people who cloak themselves in a cause that hurts others on the pretense that they are doing something good.

Lastly, in the same infamous and immoral press release issued by Ben & Jerry’s, they claimed that, “Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement. We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready.”

I say get out of Israel. There are plenty of great ice cream companies in Israel for the Israelis to buy and sell. We will do fine on our own without your stupid names like Yes Pecan, or I Dough I Dough. They say that Ben Cohen has severe anosmia, the inability to smell. I think that in addition to this challenge, he has the inability to think.

I believe that until the parent company Unilever steps up to the plate, I agree with the Town of Hempstead under the initiative of Bruce Blakeman to stop doing business with the entire company until they set this straight. As for me, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is done forever and ever.

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About the Author
Rabbi Yakov Saacks is the founder and director of The Chai Center, Dix Hills, NY. The Chai Center has been nicknamed by some as New York's most Unorthodox Orthodox Center.
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