Ben & Jerry’s co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are under fire after they failed to come up with a reason why they refuse to sell their ice cream in parts of Israel over political disagreements but do business in areas of the United States where they disagree with laws and policies.
Progressive ice cream maker has made a strong statement about social justice and earlier announced that it would not be selling its desserts in Occupied Palestinian Territory, the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Cohen and Greenfield, who no longer technically control the company but remain its public faces, appeared on “Axios on HBO” Sunday, where Axios’ Alexi McCammond asked why they don’t just remove their ice cream from Israel altogether.
“Well, I disagree with the U.S. policy, we couldn’t stop selling in the U.S.,” Cohen said as he shrugged.
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McCammond declared, “You’re big supporters of voting rights,” McCammond added. Why do you sell Georgia ice cream? Texas bans abortion. Why is it that you are still selling in Texas?
Cohen appeared dumbfounded as he shrugged and said, “I don’t know,” before chuckling.
“It’s an interesting question. I don’t know what that would accomplish. We’re working on those issues, of voting rights,” Cohen said. “I don’t know. You ask an excellent question. And I think I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit.”
McCammond is a left-leaning journalist who was forced to resign as Teen Vogue editor in chief for her tweets. McCammond then returned to press the men about the Texas abortion law.
We should stop selling ice cream everywhere based on that logic. I’ve got issues with what’s being done in most every state and most every country,” Cohen said.
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One thing is different about Israel’s actions is the fact that they are illegal under international law. Greenfield said that this is something that should be considered.
Cohen also insisted pulling Ben & Jerry’s from Israel isn’t about money, but simply that the co-founders “don’t want our ice cream sold in the occupied territories.”
“It’s not a financial stance, it’s a policy stance,” he said.
The co-founders appeared to see things differently when asked if they’re bothered when critics accuse them of anti-Semitism.
“It’s absurd … what, I’m anti-Jewish? I mean, I’m a Jew,” Cohen said while laughing. Cohen laughed and said, “All of my family are Jewish. My friends are Jewish.”
Greenfield acknowledged that he can understand the criticisms.
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“It’s a very emotional issue for a lot of people and I totally understand it, it’s a very painful issue,” Greenfield said.
For the highly criticized interview, Cohen and Greenfield were swiftly roasted by social media.
Michael Dickenson, executive director of Stand With Israel It has been called a “car-crash interview” and said the non-answer proves “their Israel boycott is wrong-headed, unfair and yes – discriminatory.”
Townhall’s Leah Barkoukis called it a “total trainwreck of an interview,” while The Spectator World called it “excruciating.”
Others took to Twitter to share their thoughts about the interview.
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“We have a long-standing partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region,” the company said in a July press release. “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.”
After announcing that it would not sell frozen desserts in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory”, Naftali Bennett, Israeli Prime Minister, and Benjamin Netanyahu, his predecessor received backlash.
The announcement drew a sharp rebuke from Bennett and Netanyahu, with the current Israeli prime minister saying Ben & Jerry’s “decided to brand itself as anti-Israel ice cream.”
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“The boycott against Israel … reflects that they have totally lost their way,” Bennett added. “The boycott doesn’t work and won’t work and we will fight it with all our might.”
Netanyahu posted Monday’s tweet, “Now the Israelis know which Ice Cream NOT to Buy,” with emojis of a Israeli flag and a flexing hip.
Ben & Jerry’s also made headlines last year when it threw its support behind the Defund the Police movement.
Fox Business’ Houston Keene contributed to this report.