Israel has launched what has been described as a maximum pressure campaign against Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever, after the iconic ice cream brand announced it would halt sales in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israel has asked 35 U.S. governors to enforce state laws which make it a crime to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS. The founders of Ben & Jerry’s, who no longer have operational control of the company, have defended the company’s decision. A number of Jewish groups including J Street, the New Israel Fund and Americans for Peace Now, all of whom oppose BDS, have defended Ben & Jerry’s decision and rejected accusations that the company’s decision was antisemitic. “What we are seeing is an aggressive, over the top, full-court press from senior officials in the Israeli government … to target Ben & Jerry’s simply for the fact that they made a principled decision to respect the distinction between the state of Israel and the territory that it occupies beyond the green line,” says Logan Bayroff, Vice President of Communications of J-Street. “These anti-boycott laws aren’t just posing issues under the first amendment, they’re actually punishing companies that do the right thing by ending their complicity in human rights abuses,” adds Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch.
This content originally appeared on Democracy Now! and was authored by Democracy Now!.