Ben & Jerry’s: Australia pollies air their views

August 5, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Senator Eric Abetz, Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel, and Senator Kimberley Kitching, Deputy Chair have criticised Ben and Jerry’s decision not to renew their license agreement with the Israeli franchisee who sells their ice cream in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” in the West Bank.

Senator Eric Abetz

They have spoken about the pressure from those who campaign for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the Jewish state of Israel.

In a joint statement, the two senators maintained “boycotts of Jewish commerce have a long and ugly history with which no good corporate citizen should identify. Those who’ve observed the attempts to build peace in the Middle East know that gestures of hostility like boycotts don’t help, only meaningful, sincere dialogue can. This is a cheap shot, probably carefully assessed by multi-national accountants before its cynical implementation.

It helps no-one to fuel fantasies among some extremists that there’s any other path to peace than both sides in conflict sitting down to settle their differences. We are optimistic that the next generation of Israeli and Palestinian leadership will achieve this dream.

 The Ben and Jerry’s boycott is not so much a virtue signal as proof of sanctimonious, petty and mindless idiocy. It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth for those who wish for peaceful co-existence for Israelis and Palestinians.”

The Chair and Deputy Chair noted Ben and Jerry’s parent company Unilever’s statement on remaining “fully committed to our presence in Israel,” and therefore call on Ben and Jerry’s to let Israeli and Palestinian leaders focus on what they need to do without further cynical attention-seeking stunts that help no-one.

NSW Labor frontbencher Walt Secord has joined those criticising Ben & Jerry’s for its decision to bow to pressure from those advocating a boycott of Israel.

Last month Walt Secord, who is deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel and patron of NSW Labor Israel Action Committee wrote to the Australian arm of Ben and Jerry’s to express his concern about the decision by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to join a boycott of Israel.

Senator Kimberley Kitching

Mr Secord also asked Ben & Jerry’s Homemade (Australia), if it supported the decision in relation to its counterpart in Israel.

This was shortly after it was announced that Ben & Jerry’s had decided not to renew its license agreement with the Israeli franchise who sold the dessert in the West Bank, bowing to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the State of Israel.

Mr Secord wrote: “This decision has caused considerable concern within the Australian community, particularly, the Australian Jewish community.

An economic boycott is abhorrent and it is counter-productive to fostering a two-State solution for Israel and the Palestinian people.

Furthermore, opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has bi-partisan support in Australia.

Both major political parties oppose the boycott of Israel. In fact, Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese expressed his opposition to the boycott as recently as July 13.”

Mr Secord has yet to receive a formal reply from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade (Australia), based in northwest Sydney, however, he received a confirmation from its parent company, Unilever.

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