The international pro-Palestine movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) has hailed American company Ben & Jerry’s decision to not sell ice cream in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, while the Tel Aviv has threatened the company with “severe consequences.”
While Israel is enraged and threatening to punish the company, the BDS movement celebrated a win that came after years of grassroots campaigning.
“We warmly welcome their decision but call on Ben & Jerry’s to end all operations in apartheid Israel,” the BDS National Committee said in a statement.
Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid criticized Ben & Jerry’s move as “a disgraceful capitulation to anti-Semitism, to BDS and to all that is evil in the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discourse.”
Livid Lapid also vowed to call on more than two dozen US states that have passed unconstitutional laws against the BDS movement’s actions against Israel “to enforce these laws against Ben & Jerry’s.”
“They will not treat the State of Israel like this without a response,” Lapid added.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, the multinational that owns Ben & Jerry’s, and threatened him with “severe consequences.”
“There are many ice cream brands, but only one Jewish state,” Bennett added.
Israel’s ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan sent a letter to the governors of 35 US states slamming Ben and Jerry’s “anti-Semitic” action.
Erdan urged the US officials take punitive measures “including in relation to your state laws and the commercial dealings between Ben & Jerry’s and your state.”
The BDS movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations that were pushing for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”
Tens of thousands of volunteers worldwide have since then joined the BDS movement, which calls for people and groups across the world to cut economic, cultural and academic ties to Tel Aviv, to help promote the Palestinian cause.
Certain US states have passed anti-BDS laws which are widely viewed as unconstitutional attempts to force pro-Israel political opinions on American citizens and entities.
Federal courts in Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona and Georgia have already struck down key anti-BDS provisions that violate First Amendment protections for freedom of speech and political opinion.