I’m a simple guy with simple likes and dislikes.
I’m a huge fan of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (anything with chocolate). I’ve also had a lifelong love affair with Israel.
My family’s from there. I’ve lived there. I’m proud of so much of what the country has accomplished.
And I can’t stand the occupation. It’s just not right for Israel to rule over millions of Palestinians without full rights while it moves its own citizens onto land that one day must and should become the state of the Palestinian people.
My fondest hope is that Israel will be a secure, just, democratic national home for the Jewish people, something it can never be if it permanently holds the territory it occupied in 1967 without providing the people who live there with full and equal rights.
So when Ben & Jerry’s says it wants to sell ice cream in Israel but not in the settlements, that seems — to me — a rational and principled, even pro-Israel, position.
I’m blown away by the overreaction of those calling this decision “antisemitic.” Antisemitism is brutal and real. My family lost lives because of it. Jews around the world fear it on a daily basis.
But calling this decision “antisemitic” is absurd. In fact, it undermines and trivializes the critical fight against the very real increase in antisemitism in the United States and around the world in recent years.
Equally, it’s inconceivable to me that people are calling for the company to face governmental retaliation for this decision.
Now, both J Street and I oppose the Global BDS Movement, which doesn’t recognize the state of Israel or the Jewish people’s right to a national homeland. But when a company says it will do business in Israel — that’s not BDS.
So that’s how I see it. The over-the-top response to this decision (you might call it a ‘meltdown’) is unwarranted and harmful.
Ben & Jerry’s decision is a legitimate, peaceful protest against the systemic injustice of occupation and a reminder that the settlements are, in fact, illegal under international law.
It’s a line in the sand between Israel and the occupation that makes perfect sense to the overwhelming majority of Jewish Americans who support a two-state solution and oppose settlement expansion.
At J Street, our work is to make sure that the voice of this majority is heard loud and clear in moments like this.
And, by the way, if you’re going to buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, try my two favorite flavors together: Netflix & Chilled combined with Chunky Monkey.
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