By Guy Page
If you’re looking forward to a scoop of Cherry Garcia ice cream on your next trip to Shanghai, don’t worry – Ben & Jerry’s isn’t boycotting the world’s largest human rights abuser.
In fact Unilever, parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, is listed as the #1 foreign-owned ice cream vendor and fourth-largest overall. in China. One can hardly blame famously “woke” multi-national Unilever for working hard to build market share in the world’s largest domestic market – estimated at a third of all ice cream sales worldwide.
That’s a lot of Bing Keeling, the Chinese term for ice cream, which some historians say was invented in China 2000 years ago. And that’s not even counting sales along China’s “Belt and Road,” the PRC’s planned expansion into the global economy.
But the People’s Republic of China, of course, is also the world’s largest human rights abuser. A million Muslims in gulags. Organ harvesting. Totalitarian dictatorship. Ecumenical oppressor of religions – Muslims, Buddhists and Christian, any faith requiring obedience to Someone bigger than the State is persecuted. As China expert Gordon Chang has reported, the PRC is also the undisputed source and exporter of Covid-19 virus – the only questions being why and how much did they know. Questions the PRC is not eager to answer.
All of which makes it puzzling – at least for those used to ethical consistency – that B&J’s would choose to boycott Israel, a peace-seeking, democratic nation of laws born out of the unprecedented suffering of the Holocaust. Surrounded by implacable enemies and invaded three times since the day of its founding in 1947, Israel practices law, justice and, yes, order above-and-beyond the standards of its worst critics. But yesterday, the company that started in a vacant gas station on College Street in Burlington published the following statement:
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.
“We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.
“Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement. We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready.”
The Jerusalem Post called the statement “a huge win for the Boycott/Divest/Sanction movement, including its Green Mountain contingent, “Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine.” They’ve been trying to drive a wedge between Israel and the Vermont business community for years. Success at last.
Or so you might think. But what Ben & Jerry’s has done just isn’t enough for the ‘Just Peace’ crowd, as their statement posted yesterday shows: “Ben & Jerry’s intended actions fail to address the widespread anger at the actions of the Israeli government against Palestinian people who live in occupied territory, or who are refugees denied their legitimate right to return to their former homes.”
Perhaps if ‘Just Peace’ gets its wish and most or all of Israel’s Chosen People are driven into yet another diaspora, Ben and Jerry’s and their buddies in the B/D/S movement will try to take down the real bully on the global human rights abuse block – China.
But don’t count on it. There’s just too much money to be made. And the real lesson is that, for the umpteenth time, the Vermont leftist movement talks big about human rights but picks the wrong target. Why is that?