|Ben and Jerry at a 2016 protest rally (Fortune)|
Until the advent of the vast network of religious schools in this country, being educated Jewishly was a pretty sparse enterprise. It didn’t help matters that the mass immigration from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century saw a lot of formerly observant Jews feeling forced to work on Shabbos - even while trying to keep the rest of their family observant and themselves observant in other ways. (Like keeping a Kosher home).
Their children had a dual challenge. One was the desire to be part of the American melting pot culture of that time which was in many cases incompatible with Shabbos observance. The other was seeing the hypocrisy of a father insisting his children remain observant of Shabbos while himself going off to work on that day. It didn't help matters that public school was for the most part the only choice for educating their children.
Those children could not run away fast and far enough from their parents’ ‘old fashioned’ European model of Judaism. They were helped along in that trek with the advent of Reform and Conservative Judaism - that either encouraged, facilitated, or tolerated non observant Jews in their membership without so much as a suggestion about actual observance.
In this way the new American Jew was born. Who ‘melted’ into the American pot and assumed progressive values instead of those of the Torah. While many of these values do overlap, some very important ones do not. Their version of Judaism became the politics of the progressive left whose sole Mitzvah is pursuing social justice. Which was preached from the pulpits of the aforementioned heterodox movements.
This is where Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield come in. These two Jews are a product of that era. To the best of my knowledge, they had no formal Jewish education. At least not any kind that explained its ethos. Ben and Jerry are avowed progressives.
Social justice is the mantra of the progressive. Which in and of itself is a fine ideal. and why so many assimilated Jews see it as their calling. That is why so many American Jews were involved in the Civil Rights Movement back in the 60s. But is is that same sense of social justice that today increasingly seems to motivate assimilated Jews to misguidedly apply it to Palestinians living on the West Bank.
Progressives that see no value in the Torah - see no value to a Jewish state. They may have once seen Israel as a refuge for Holocaust survivors. But that time has long sice passed. These days that sympathy has long ago been replaced by the view that Israel has become an occupier state that oppresses its indigenous Palestinian population via its military occupation.
That there are Jews like Ben and Jerry should not surprise anyone. They are typical of the progressive that sees the world in those terms. There is no meaningful connection to Israel by non Torah oriented progressive Jews. Certainly not 70 years after the Holocaust when the youngest survivors living there are into their nineties – if they are even still alive. Israelis are now seen as a version of the rich and powerful oppressing the weak and the poor. Palestinians are seen as suffering under their thumb. It’s not that Ben and Jerry are antisemitic. They are not. They are just ignorant of their own Jewish heritage.
It isn’t only about Jewish ignorance (although that is largely responsible for their attitude). They are ignorant of the facts on the ground. There are legitimate reasons that Palestinians on the West Bank are not given the freedom Israelis (including Arab Israelis) are. Reasons that are inextricably tied to their security – or even existential concerns.
I don’t know how many times I’ve said this - but I am absolutely convinced that Israel would make peace with the Palestinians in a ‘New York minute’ if they weren’t concerned about their own safety. I’m sure that they would even help them, both with building their infrastructure and financially. Why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t Israel want to have a friendly Arab neighbor on its borders where by they could share commerce and culture? Of what benefit is there to prolonging the enmity and the worldwide bad press that generates?
Ben and Jerry refuse to recognize that simple fact. Which is why they have decided to stop supplying their product, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream to the West Bank settlements. That non Torah oriented Jewish progressives are doing this should not be a surprise. The only surprise might be ‘What took them so long?’
This boycott is technically not a BDS boycott. Because that would have entailed ending distribution of heir product to all parts of Israel. But that is not for a lack of trying. They were apparently prevented from going that far by their parent company, Unilever, to whom they sold their company back in 2000:
On 19 July 2021, it was announced that Ben & Jerry's plans to boycott "the Occupied Palestinian Territory," generally presumed in this context to mean West Bank settlements and Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. However, Anuradha Mittal, chairwoman of Ben & Jerry's Independent Board of Directors, said: "The statement released by Ben & Jerry's regarding its operation in Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territory does not reflect the position of the Independent Board nor was it approved by the Independent Board." In fact, the Ben & Jerry Board wanted to boycott Israel entirely, but was stopped from doing so by Unilever.
As is the case with so much of American Jewry it is not their fault they feel this way. They have been indoctrinated with the tenets of progressivism as a replacement for the Torah form of Judaism they never had the chance to learn. Which they see as the the most moral ideal approach of humanity. Social justice is their Torah. That is increasingly the way many secular American Jews feel. Without the Torah as their guide - the more progressive they are, the more they might feel this way. Supporting BDS becomes a no brainer.
I don’t know where this leaves Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, the 4th best selling ice cream. But I know where it should leave us and any other fair minded American not brainwashed by the kind of left wing progressivism in which Ben and Jerry have been brainwashed.Their product should be boycotted. Grocery chains and any establishment that sells ice cream products shoud be encouraged to drop their product.
People who like ice cream have 3 companies to choose from that probably make a better product than they do. Like Haagen-Dazs for instance. There will be no loss the the American palate by boycotting Ben and Jerry’s. If we can’t make them realize the folly of their ways, we can at least try and stop them from profiting from it. Fortunately some stores have already done this as the Jewish Press and World Israel News report. Ken Yirbu.