The Israeli ambassador to the U.S. accused Ben & Jerry’s co-founders of “helping the antisemites” following an interview in which they defended the company’s decision not to sell its ice cream in the country’s occupied Palestinian territory.
Gilad Erdan, the envoy to the U.S. and the United Nations, said the “ignorance and hypocrisy” toward Israel demonstrated during the interview aired Oct. 10 on HBO is “an outrage.” Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who sold the company to Unilever Plc. in 2000, said they aren’t against “Israel’s right to exist,” they just “didn’t want our ice cream sold in the occupied territory.”
“Part of the definition of antisemitism is precisely to demand from Israel what is not demanded of any other entity in the world,” Erdan said Monday. “Ben and Jerry have no problem with their ice cream being sold to supporters of terrorism, and yet they are boycotting Israel.”
Cohen and Greenfield, who no longer have an operational role at Ben & Jerry’s, have noted that they are themselves Jewish. In the “Axios on HBO” interview, Cohen said the idea that they are antisemitic was “absurd.”
The Vermont-based company announced in July that it would stop selling its products in Jewish West Bank settlements and areas of east Jerusalem by the end of 2022. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told Unilever the “blatantly anti-Israel” decision would have “serious repercussions, legal and otherwise.”
“I will continue to act so that as many countries as possible will include Ben and Jerry’s and Unilever on their black list, until this despicable boycott is ended,” Erdan said. Since July, states including New Jersey, Texas and Florida have taken steps to divest from the company.
Unilever shares were down 0.6 percent at 3:10 p.m. in London. The stock is down about 13 percent this year.
Story by Augusta Saraiva and Alisa Odenheimer.