De Blasio calls Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott a ‘mistake’

De Blasio calls Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott a ‘mistake’
Image: Ben & Jerrys via LU Staff

By Jennie Taer

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized Ben & Jerry’s latest decision to stop selling their products in parts of Israel, during a news conference Tuesday.

“I can say that I won’t be eating any more Cherry Garcia for a while,” de Blasio said, referring to the brand’s popular flavor.

He added, “That’s sad to me. I don’t know them well, but I’ve met them over the years and I think they’re good people, literally Ben and Jerry. I think they’re good people with good values, but this is a mistake. They shouldn’t do this.”

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The progressive ice cream company announced Monday its decision to cease sales in “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” meaning the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel gained control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, but the areas are considered “occupied” by some in the international community.

De Blasio has long opposed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) targeting Israel and reiterated his commitment to fighting the effort.

“BDS is a movement that will undermine peace in the Middle East,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. You cannot have peace if you undermine the economic reality and create division. I just believe that’s absolutely the wrong approach and I don’t think Ben & Jerry’s should be doing that.”

De Blasio went on to acknowledge that the ice cream company had “done a lot of good in the world,” but that its latest move takes opportunities away from both Israelis and Palestinians.

“As interesting as the Israeli government is, it at least is a different government and the potential for a different path forward exists now, but not if the economy doesn’t work because the path to peace is going to have to involve economic justice for Israelis and Palestinians alike and that won’t work if the economy doesn’t function,” de Blasio explained.

“So, I think BDS is just absolutely mistaken and I’m sorry to hear that news,” he concluded.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called Ben & Jerry’s decision “ethically bereft” and said “the boycott will not work.” Bennett later spoke with the CEO of Unilever, the company that owns Ben & Jerry’s, and threatened “severe consequences.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Gilad Erdan and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid sent a letter Monday to governors from 35 U.S. states that have anti-BDS legislation urging them to speak out against Ben & Jerry’s decision and to take appropriate action against the company.

A number of grocery stores in the U.S. responded to Ben & Jerry’s announcement by pulling its products off their shelves.

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