By Terri Jo Neff
The announcement last week by officials of Ben & Jerry’s that the ice cream company would stop selling its products in the Israeli-controlled West Bank at the end of 2022 prompted Gov. Doug Ducey to call the move “discrimination.”
Ducey added that “Arizona stands with Israel” and said the state “will not do business with a company that boycotts Israel.” He also reminded Arizonans that as governor has twice signed legislation in an attempt to make sure the State does not contract with entities engaging in boycotts of Israel. It is unclear how much money was spent annually by state agencies on Ben & Jerry’s products before and after the legislation.
The decision by Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s came after pro-Palestinian activists worked to garner support within the United States for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) efforts involving companies which do business in Israeli or in West Bank communities which Palestinians claim a right to.
The Anti-Defamation League calls BDS efforts anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and bigoted.
Ben & Jerry’s has not announced any plans to step selling its products in any other areas of Israel, although a factory in southern Israel is reportedly slated for closure despite not being near occupied or disputed territory.
Both Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid criticized the decision by Ben & Jerry’s. And in New York, the board of directors of a grocery chain recently voted to cut off all promotional activities involving Ben & Jerry’s products.
Avi Kaner, co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarkets, said the objective of “extremists” within Ben & Jerry’s “is very, very selective boycotts specifically against the Jewish people,” particularly those who live in Jewish communities within disputed territories.
“Who is Ben & Jerry’s to say that little Jewish girls cannot have ice cream in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem?” Kaner said.
Earlier this year several students at Arizona State University (ASU) sought to pass a resolution in support of BDS efforts. The president of the ASU Undergraduate Student Government declined to put the matter on a meeting agenda.