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Di Leo: Ice Cream and Bigotry

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By John F. Di Leo - 

On Monday morning, July 19, 2021, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream posted a statement on their website announcing that their ice cream would no longer be sold in the “occupied palestinian territory” or OPT. This was a shock, for many, for a number of reasons, first among them being that people think of Ben and Jerry’s as a Jewish business, since, after all, its founders were Jewish.

Only after careful consideration did people put two and two together, realizing that Ben & Jerry’s was bought, sometime ago, by Unilever, a Britain-based conglomerate.


 Ben and Jerry’s ice cream

The first error, one might argue, is in assuming that Ben and Jerry’s would ever be pro-Israel.

 

Ever since the dawn of the Zionist movement in the 19th century, there has been a divide in the Jewish community, between those who support the return to having a place among the nations, and those who oppose it.

 

For too many reasons to go into here, there have always been Jews who believed the diaspora should be permanent… people who believed (and continue to believe, even today) that reestablishing a Jewish state was a bad idea.   Such opponents have always included both those who were Jewish only by ethnicity, but not by religion, and even some of those who kept the faith as well.

 

Ben & Jerry’s has always been known as a leftist company. It has promulgated the far leftward turn of the Democratic party, through their marketing, public endorsements, and even the naming of their flavors.

 

It should therefore not be surprising that, as the Democratic Party has become more and more of an anti-Israel party, its corporate supporters would join in such trends as well.

 

50 years ago, the Democratic party had members who were tough on crime, and members who were easy on crime.… Members who were against high taxes, and members who in favor of high taxes.… Members who were anti-Soviet, and members who were, horrifyingly but proudly, pro-Soviet.

 

This is no longer the case.

 

The modern Left has demanded a single-mindedness of thought that the Right never expected or attempted.  The Democratic Party has largely purged itself of fiscally responsible, anti-tax candidates, Anti-abortion candidates, even anti-communist candidates. 

 

While such rational positions still exist in the hearts of many Democrat voters, these proper positions no longer exist and Democrat party doctrine, and are no longer tolerated in the candidates they nominate for public office.

 

We should therefore no longer be surprised when Democrat-owned companies support policies in direct contradiction to their own heritage, even to their own best interests. Blind obedience to the party platform is everything for the modern Left.… cf. “intersectionality.”

 

And so it is with Ben & Jerry’s and their historic Jewish identification. Supporting their fellow Jews across the sea in Israel must take second billing to being a woke company of the modern era, and therefore opposing Israel with all the fierceness they can muster.

 

They may be Jewish, they may be businessman, they may be Americans… But they are leftists first, and by decree, that means they must be anti-Israel – and pro-palestinian terrorist – from beginning to end.

 

Judea and Samaria

 

The tiny nation of Israel has been threatened or outright attacked by its Arab neighbors again and again since before it was re-born as a nation in 1948.

 

Following the 1967 war, Israel’s borders were finally and rightly expanded to include the traditional Israeli regions of Judea and Samaria. In any other country in the world, when borders are changed after a war, the world accepts that new map, with only the rarest of exceptions.

 

Israel is such an exception. The word went out across the Left immediately after the 1967 war that the new map would not be accepted, because breaking Israel’s new defensible borders would be critical to destroying Israel itself as a nation.

 

And so it was that the Left immediately began referring to the provinces of Judea and Samaria as the West Bank, instead of referring to them by name. They started calling it “occupied land,” and gradually the term “occupied palestinian territories” or OPT started finding its way into official documents the world over.

 

Think about it: if the world never accepts the reality of existing borders, it can call whoever governs those borders an “interloper.”   There may be no ethical justification for it, but ethics are hardly the interest of the modern Left.

 

Think what this does to the minds of the uneducated… think how such language colors the assumptions of the average consumer of news reports.

 

Let's say you report that terrorists are continually firing rockets at innocent civilian neighborhoods in Israel, and you build support for the innocent targets of the terrorists. They can’t have that. The Left is too deeply invested in supporting the terrorists, and destroying the nation of Israel.

 

So instead, you report that "people in the occupied territories are launching missiles into Israel," and by so doing, you subconsciously prejudice the reader or viewer in favor of "those poor occupied insurgents."  It may be subliminal, but it has been their process for half a century now.

 

Israel has been a city on a hill, not only in that region, but in the world at large. Ever since its founding in 1948, Israel he has been a modern parliamentary republic, with the right to vote and to form parties, and even the right to hold office, all being proudly defended as a matter of principle.

 

Nowhere else in that region do Arabs, Jews, Christians, and atheists all have the right to vote and even be elected as alderman, mayors, even members of the parliament.   

 

Israel has mastered irrigation and farming techniques, establishing an agricultural industry in a former desert. Free market principles have driven entrepreneurship and corporate growth, providing a path to a middle-class life, for refugees who came home after centuries in poverty abroad.

 

Israel is therefore too successful, too good, too blatant an example of the desirability of western civilization, for the Left to allow it to remain in place.

 

So the Left has put a target on Israel’s back.

 

But how do you vilify a country so fair, so honorable, so prosperous, so peaceful, so exemplary? There is only one way: with trumped up charges, drummed into the heads of the public on a daily basis.

 

Calling Judea and Samaria “the OPT” is the very keystone to the Left’s assault on Israel. Ben & Jerry’s agreement to use that term, supporting the artificial legal wall between Israel’s pre-1967 and post 1967 borders, shows the management of Ben & Jerry’s whole-hearted commitment to the anti-Israeli aspect of the modern Left’s agenda.

 

The Arab League boycott of Israel

 

The Arab League is an association of about 42 primarily Muslim and/or Arab nations, which formalized a boycott against Israel generations ago. 

 

In their boycott, they take the standard rule that you don’t trade with countries with which you are currently at war, and they compound it, by adding a boycott against businesses or countries that do business with Israel, and even a boycott against businesses employing people of Jewish heritage.

 

The Arab League‘s boycott, when fully enforced, forces businesses in member countries to refuse to buy from or sell to companies in neutral nations such as the United States or Europe, if those companies have Jewish ownership, Jewish board members, do business with Israel themselves, or even include Israeli components in the manufacture of their finished goods.

 

As you can imagine, such a boycott is an outrage. The USA has outlawed participation in, or support of, this repulsive boycott for almost 50 years now.

 

American exporting companies must employ staff to check their contracts, supply agreements, letters of credit, and other documents, to ensure that customers, vendors, or middleman abroad do not sneak the Arab League’s boycott language into their terms and conditions.

 

US anti-boycott law is enforced by a number of agencies, particularly the Office of Anti-Boycott Compliance at the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security.

 

When American businesses are asked by customers or other trading partners to comply with obnoxious requirements or queries along these lines, their law departments must file quarterly reports with our government, announcing those requests, so that our own government is aware of this bigotry, and so it can inform government policy.

 

In short, the purpose of the Arab League boycott is to starve Israel of economic activity.

 

Ben & Jerry’s announcement rejecting sales of its product to Judea and Samaria is therefore In clear violation of the spirit of U.S. law, if not the letter, because it is so clearly in contradiction to American policy and America’s commitment to fair trade policy.

 

Tisha B’Av

 

In the Jewish religious calendar, the saddest holy day is that of Tisha B’Av, a mournful remembrance of the many horrible attacks on the Jewish people over the millennia.  

 

The first of these, driving the selection of the date, was the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem by the Persians in 586 BC.  The same holy day is used to remember the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, and many more programs and mass murders than can be listed here.

 

In studying Tisha b’Av, thinking back on that long list of genocides, expulsions, deportations, and more, one cannot help but understand the Zionist cause, and see the reason why this people, of all peoples, most needs and deserves one country of its own, where its people can be protected from the villainy of tyrants and the malice of bigoted crowds.

 

One such event, in particular, is worth mentioning here: the Edict of Expulsion, in which King Edward I of England expelled all Jews from England.   This particular edict, banning Jews from the nation entirely,  remained in force for 350 years, until it was finally overturned by the short-lived Parliament of Oliver Cromwell.

 

The Edict of Expulsion was issued on July 18, 1290 A.D.

 

And so it was that on the morning of July 19, the Monday morning following the Tisha B'Av remembrances, fans of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream were greeted with this announcement, this testament to anti-Semitism, on their Internet browsers.

 

Being a British conglomerate, perhaps Unilever was reverting to type… But was its decision to make this announcement on the weekend of Tisha B’Av intentional or not?

 

One cannot help but wonder if there was an especially cruel twist of the knife at work, prompting the choice of that day, of all days, to take one of the most well-known Jewish American brands, and commit it to the cause of anti-Semitism.

 

Business is just business, one is tempted to conclude. Corporate executives don’t mean to be bigots; they just don’t understand the big picture, we all hope, ever giving them the benefit of the doubt.…

 

But once again, and not for the first time, the thoughtful consumer is reminded of the danger in business degrees that cover only marketing and accounting, leaving out history, philosophy, theology … the courses necessary to understand this world in which we live.

 

Copyright 2021 John F Di Leo

 

John F Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based Customs broker, trade compliance trainer, writer and actor.   His columns have been found here in Illinois Review since 2009.

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t do this divide Republicans into supporting Israel. How about listening to some of Palestinians from Bridgeview IL area about their experiences in the Concentration camp called Gaza being terrorized by IDF SS Gestapo? My god they are using AI terminator like drones against these people!

  2. You give Unilever too much credit. Thinking is not a part of their corporate culture. Everything Unilever makes can be bought from a different company at a cheaper price with better quality. As a starter, I recommend Duke’s Mayonnaise over Hellmann’s, or that gagging concoction Miracle Whip. Duke’s is still made by an American company.
    Further, Israelis have many ice cream choices, better choices than B&J, with its virtue signaling packages and at this point lackadaisical flavors. What was popular in the 1970s has faded off into the sunset with roller skates and hot pants worn together. Their virtue-signaling Chubby Hubby, with the married gay guys, can be bought in store brands. A knock-off of Cherry Garcia can be purchased at Aldi.
    The flavors that appeal to Israelis are not flavors that are generally found in the American freezer section. The only place I saw orange and pistachio ice cream with olive oil outside of Israel was Mariano’s, store brand, limited edition. Rice pudding? Watermelon? The Israelis are not going to boo-hoo that B&J isn’t being sold in Israel. Most likely, the Israelis will not notice nor care. They have access to not only some truly fine home-made in Israel gelato and ice cream. They have access to Italian imports, far superior to B&J.
    The only thing Unilever did with their virtue signaling was please a few leftist Americans and Brits. Thinking Americans stopped buying B&J long ago (I stopped in the 1990s). Now that Unilever called attention to itself, others who were unaware what bigots Unilever has in its executive offices will know, and stop buying it as well (I encountered five last week). The few Israelis as well as alleged Palestinians who were buying it won’t because they can’t, and will spend their ice cream money elsewhere.
    And Unilever shot itself in the financial foot to show everybody in the world how progressive it is.