Ben & Jerry’s Founders Say ‘We’re Proud Jews’ But Defend Company’s Ban on West Bank Sales

Jerry Greenfield (left) and Bennett Cohen, founders of Ben & Jerry’s, defended Unilever’s ban. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The founders of Ben & Jerry’s are defending their company’s decision to put the freeze on selling ice cream in the West Bank, calling it “the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Although Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield no longer have control of their namesake company — British food giant Unilever owns it — they backed its decision on Thursday, despite the fact it has drawn fury from Israelis and New Yorkers alike.

“We are the founders of Ben & Jerry’s. We are also proud Jews. It’s part of who we are and how we’ve identified ourselves for our whole lives,” the founders wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times Thursday.

“As our company began to expand internationally, Israel was one of our first overseas markets. We were then, and remain today, supporters of the State of Israel.”

The duo added that it is “possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies” just as they’ve “opposed policies in the US government.” The men said they “unequivocally support the decision of the company to end business in the occupied territories, which a majority of the international community,” including the US, “has deemed an illegal occupation.”

In recent days, the company’s decision has been called out as anti-Semitic by critics, including Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who threatened Unilever CEO Alan Jope with consequences for the company due to the sales ban.

Public officials in the US have also criticized the move, with a number of states, including New York, that have adopted so-called anti-boycott laws threatening to divest their pension funds from Unilever.

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SOURCE: New York Post, Alexandra Steigrad