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Ben & Jerry’s board president receives death threats after boycotting Israeli settlements

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Anuradha Mittal, the chair of Ben & Jerry’s board of directors (Photo via Twitter)

The board president of Ben & Jerry's has received death threats and abandoned her home, after the ice cream company announced last month that it would no longer be selling its products in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

A Brooklyn-based rabbi identified as Shloime Dovid Lewis has sent a vile message to the Oakland Institute, where Anuradha Mittal is the director.

“Most Jews consider Hindus, like yourself, the lowest forms of human beings,” the message read, asserting that Hindus follow what it termed as a “disgusting idolatrous religion.”

It hurled further insults at Hindus and described them as smelly. The disparaging message also dismissed Indian rituals of cremation and alleged that Hindus disrespect the bodies of their parents by burning them.

The self-proclaimed rabbi said it had written to members of US Congress to stop accepting Indian migrants, claiming they “buy up motels and jack up the prices.”

A California Young Israel rabbi, Dov Fisher, posted a similar attack on Mittal. 

He published the message in far-right online magazine The American Spectator, founded by Emmett Tyrrell.

Ben & Jerry's announced on July 19 its plans to stop selling ice cream in illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories because it is "inconsistent" with the company's "values." 

Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the two Jewish founders of Ben & Jerry's, later wrote an op-ed in American daily newspaper The New York Times, and said that they opposed the Tel Aviv regime's policies regarding the occupation of Palestinian lands. 

Mittal has stood by the decision and denied being anti-Semitic following Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid’s allegation that the boycott was a “shameful surrender to anti-Semitism.”

“I am proud of @benandjerrys for taking a stance to end sale of its ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” she tweeted, using the same term for the West Bank that the announcement used.

“This action is not anti-Semitic. I am not anti-Semitic. The vile hate that has been thrown at me does not intimidate me. Pls work for peace – not hatred!”

The move has provoked a wave of fury from Israel and pro-Israel groups, with Israeli president Isaac Herzog denouncing it as a "new form of terrorism" and extremist prime minister Naftali Bennett promising Israel would use "all tools at its disposal" to fight the decision by Ben & Jerry's.

According to a classified Israeli foreign ministry cable seen by the American news site Axios, the Tel Aviv regime has launched a special task force in order to apply "long-term pressure" on the ice cream company.

The task force reportedly aims to lobby politicians and organizations - primarily in the United States - to exert pressure on the company to reverse its decision before the policy comes into effect in 18 months' time.

The classified document instructed Israeli diplomats to encourage extremist Jewish groups and pro-Israel groups to organize demonstrations outside Ben & Jerry's offices and those of Unilever, the brand’s parent company, and try and apply pressure on investors and distributors.

It said the decision to discontinue sales in the occupied Palestinian territories was motivated by the international anti-Israel movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).

The BDS movement has hailed the move but said it hoped Ben & Jerry's would also “end all operations in apartheid Israel.”

The BDS movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations pushing for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

Thousands of volunteers worldwide have since 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.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Israel has stepped up its illegal settlement construction activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which has pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

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