When Ben & Jerry’s International decided to stop selling its ice cream to Jews living in the “occupied” Palestinian Territories, it risked a major backlash, not only in Israel, but worldwide.
Late last week the company suffered its first major loss in connection to the boycott when graphic designer Susannah Levin said she would no longer work with Ben & Jerry’s.
For 21 years Levin has been creating the whimsical graphics that appear on Ben & Jerry’s ice cream containers.
In an announcement posted to Facebook she wrote: “Effective immediately, I have quit my job of 21 years at Ben & Jerry’s, over the statement on Israel.”
Levin included a video clip in which the late Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explained that modern anti-Zionism is antisemitism (see below).
Israel Today spoke with Levin by telephone and she clarified the decision by stating:
“As a person who loves the Jewish people and the Jewish nation I could not work a single moment for a company that would join up with or appease a BDS campaign. I have good friends and working relationships with people there, but if this is what they now represent I cannot be part of it.
“I saw this coming for the last month, and I did not see anyone else opposing it actively, so I escalated the issue and went to the highest levels in the company to speak about and defend Israel because I didn’t think they were hearing another point of view.”
Meanwhile, officials in five US states said they have started looking into whether or not Ben & Jerry’s decision violates their laws prohibiting boycotts of Israel.
In recent years 34 American states have passed laws aimed at combatting the anti-Israel movement known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). These laws require that state governments stop doing any business with companies or entities that in any way boycott the Jewish state.
The anti-BDS laws in 21 of those states explicitly include a prohibition on boycotting Jewish “settlers” living in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, the so-called “West Bank.”
Last week the state governments of Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Illinois began a legal review of the matter that could lead to them divesting from Ben & Jerry’s International and its parent company Unilever.
“If it is determined that Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever has engaged in any activities proscribed under Chapter 808 of the Texas Government Code, my office will take all appropriate and required actions consistent with our policies and procedures,” read a statement released by Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar.
“Texans have made it very clear that they stand with Israel and its people. We are against all those wishing to undermine Israel’s economy and its people,” the statement continued.