Ben & Jerry's. The pride of the kosher-consuming American Jew. Target marketed for the kosher-consuming Jew. How we kvelled to see such a mamash Jewish looking Hechsher. And how delicious! And we even told ourselves and others that they are a company with a social consciousness and they give a percentage of their profits to humanitarian and ecological causes. A win-win situation. Right?
If Ben & Jerry's really were interested in making a positive contribution to a true peace, and wanted to make a political statement in favor of peace, they could have instructed their licensee in Israel that if he wanted to purchase Mei Eden water, then it would be advised to purchase a like quantity of Syrian or Palestinian mineral water as well, and to make their sherbets have a good message; Regional cooperation leading to a delicious product.
Ben & Jerry's prefers to BOYCOTT THE JEWS of Katzrin. To make sure that not one shekel goes to feed the families of the Jews of Katzrin. You'll contribute to starving them out! That's a very clear agenda. And it stinks!
We are going to attempt to work together with Mr. Avi Zinger, the licensee of Ben & Jerry's in Israel, to overturn the anitsemitic BOYCOTT of the JEWS at Ben & Jerry's, because we don't want G-d forbid, to needlessly endanger his investments. In fact we are going to make him a hero. Since he has nothing to lose (Ben & Jerry's in Israel can not withstand a boycott) we are going to ask him to take the battle to the mother company.
We want Ben & Jerry's to do Teshuva (it would be a real shame to forfeit the pleasure of eating their products) and make public announcement of their apology to the Jews of Katzrin. To show their sincerity they will build a playground for the children of Katzrin and for the children of a sister Druse village on the Heights as well as outfit a classroom in Katzrin with computers as well as a classroom in a Druze village.
Otherwise, we sincerely hope, for the sake of Ben & Jerry's shareholders, that Mr. Crystal and his Arab American backers like ice cream, and store fixtures, and lots of napkins with the Ben & Jerry's logo on them.
The following article was published in the prestigious Israeli Ha'Aretz newspaper on 20th September, 1998:Ben & Jerry's Deal with Eden Water Put on Ice
Following pressure by U.S. Leftist Groups
by Sami Sockol
Ha'aretz West Bank Correspondent
The American ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's cancelled a contract with Eden mineral water company, which operates in Katzrin in the Golan Heights, following a public campaign by pro-peace organizations in the United States.
Several months ago, the Israeli branch of Ben & Jerry's signed a contract with Eden to supply the water for producing sherbet.
Following the agreement, an organization called New Yorkers for Just Peace in the Middle East launched a campaign to overturn the decision.
The campaign was inspired by the boycott on products from the settlements, run by the peace organization Gush Shalom.
Members of the New York organization, headed by Nathan Crystal, a Jew who used to live in Israel and was arrested for refusing to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, sent letters, faxes and e-mails to the company's offices, saying that Eden operated in a settlement in occupied territory, and that the contract Ben & Jerry's signed with it was helping the Israeli government adopt an aggressive policy that ruined the chances for peace.
The letters went on to say that Ben & Jerry's agreement with Eden contradicted the ice cream maker's claim of sensitivity to social and humanitarian issues.
As other American organizations joined the campaign and the flow of protest letters to the company grew, the director of Ben & Jerry's international products division announced that the agreement with Eden was cancelled.
The following article was published in the prestigious Israeli Jerusalem Post newspaper on 20th September, 1998:Gush Shalom: No Golan Water in Ben & Jerry's
by Jerusalem Post Staff
Gush Shalom said yesterday that Ben & Jerry's, the American ice cream producer, has cancelled a contract with the Mei Eden spring water bottler, after opposition to it in the US. The Mei Eden plant is located in the Golan Heights settlement of Katzrin.
Gush Shalom, which cooperates with New Yorkers for A Just Peace, said the latter group spearheaded a letter campaign and threatened a boycott before receiving a letter from Ben & Jerry's confirming it no longer works with Mei Eden. Officials from Ben & Jerry's could not be reached for comment last night.
The following article was reported by Radio Station, Arutz 7, and also published on their news e-zine.Ben & Jerry's Cancels Golan Deal
A setback in the struggle for international recognition of Israel's right to the Golan. Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream company has announced that it will cease purchasing water from a Golan Heights water company, Mei Eden. Bram Kleppner, International Products Manager for Ben and Jerry's, told Arutz-7 last night, "We were getting a lot of e-mails [mailto:Info@benjerry.com] protesting the deal, and so we figured that, all things being equal, we might as well upset less people rather than more... As you well know, " Kleppner continued, "[many] countries have occupied the Golan over the past 3,000 years, so who are we to decide who is right [in the current dispute between Israel and Syria]?"
The form-letter emails sent to Ben and Jerry's [email@example.com] were backed by a coalition of groups, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The authors repeated the accusation that Israel is "notorious for its expropriation of water resources," and threatened that, "We are in the process of implementing a boycott of products generated by Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Similar boycotts are already underway in Palestine/Israel and in Europe. Should an agreement indeed exist between Ben and Jerry's and Eden Springs, and should you continue this agreement, we will consider calling for a boycott of Ben and Jerry's products."
Avi Zinger, manager of the Ben and Jerry's franchise in Israel, told Arutz-7, "At first, we told the managers in the U.S. that Mei Eden is a perfectly reputable company, but after the public pressure in the U.S. increased, we informed Mei Eden that we would have to discontinue our water purchases from them."
Shanah Tova from Jerusalem! I used to be one of your greatest fans. Since we are taught to always give the benefit of the doubt, and I know from experience that we can not trust anything written in the printed media, I would like to hear it from you directly - is it true that you cancelled a contract with Mei Eden for supply of water for your sherberts?
If it is true, and since this is the 10 day period in which we may still atone for our sins and be forgiven, you have until Yom Kippur to rethink your position. If you have indeed cancelled the contract, and have not recanted, let me give you an idea of what you are in for.
Bare in mind that I am an American who holds the same sense of values that your company is founded on. In fact, part of my reason for supporting you all these years is your social policy of responsibility. What you have done here, is pure undemocratic political bias. If you are serious, than you must close your operations in Israel, as your tax money supports the regime. Otherwise, you are going against the democratically elected government's policy that reflects the consensus of the local population.
Against this, you succomb to the rantings of a one-man organization in New York, headed by a draft dodging civically irresponsible expatriate.
Here's the deal. If you don't want to see your name equated with the haters of Israel - a stigma that will last a generation - then you better rethink your policy. How do you like these bumper stickers;
Ben & Jerry's - Bad for the Jews!
Your ingredients may be Kosher - but your political bias is Treif
Proud to be Jewish - Boycott Ben & Jerry's
Ha'am Im HaGolan - Bli Ben V'Jerry's (The people with the Golan - without Ben & Jerry's)
We will see to it that every vendor that carries your products returns your coolers, and ceases to sell your line.
We will picket every outlet you have in the country.
And then we will take it to New York, California, and Miami.
And that's just for a start.
Perhaps the press misquoted you?
Subject: re: Outraged!
At 16:32 23/09/98 -0400, you wrote:
Here are the facts:
Since 1988, Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. has licensed an independent Israeli company to produce and manufacture Ben & Jerry's products in Israel. During the summer of 1998, our Israeli licensee elected to offer Ben & Jerry's sorbet for a summer promotion. He purchased a small quantity of water from a company called Mei Eden that bottles water in the Golan Heights. As you know, the issue of access to water in the Golan Heights is part of the peace negotiations. Although our licensee did not intend to, and indeed, would prefer not to make a political statement, this action, though very limited, was being construed as violating the spirit of the peace process.
Our licensee has no business reason to purchase water from the Golan Heights. We note that both Israeli peace groups and Arab groups are wrongly claiming credit for that.
Our position in support of the peace process in the Middle East is not the result of demands from either of these groups. In fact, our position is influenced by our past actions in support of peaceful means to resolve conflicts. In 1988, a few years after our company went public, our founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield launched a nonprofit called 1% for Peace, committed to directing 1% of the military budget to supporting peace efforts. Also in 1991, at the height of the Persian Gulf conflict, Ben & Jerry's initiated and enlisted 18 other companies to sign a full page ad in the New York Times urging then-President Bush to allow the sanctions to work. Those actions, like this one, were controversial and provocative but in our view a consistent expression of our values.
We received your evasive form letter.
Did you instruct your licensee to cancel a contract for the supply of Mei Eden water as an act of political bias?
Your discrimination against one party to the negotiations and your paying taxes to a regime that obviously acts against your "morals", shows your corporate policy to be nothing but hypocrisy and political bias.
Your licensee has a very strong business reason to purchase water from the Golan Heights now. If you cancel your contract with Mei Eden, we are going to close you down in Israel and in every Jewish community worldwide.
Your boycott of Jewish products in Israel is not controversial and provocative, its morally reprehensible. You have no idea of how big a pile you stepped into.
What a Chilul Hashem your two Jewish founders have created. They must be very proud of themselves. I wonder if they know that through your obtuseness, their names will be remembered together with the haters of Israel for generations to come.
Subject: re: Further Outraged!
Thanks for writing! Our mailbox is busy as a beehive these days. We are so fortunate and happy to be hearing from you and want to acknowledge receipt of your message at this time. We are reading mail as it comes in and processing it as quickly as possible, however, due to the current volume, we aren't able to get quick, personal replies to many of you as we would like. We hope that you will bear with us while we work at accomplishing that goal. In the meantime, thank you for your understanding and for caring to share your thoughts with us.
If you haven't already, visit our website at http://www.benjerry.com. You may be able to find the answer to your question there.
Ben & Jerry's
PS: If your note concerns dissatisfaction with a Ben & Jerry's product you recently purchased, please send us (via USPS) the container bottom or wrapper, place and date of purchase, your name and return address, and details explaining why you were dissatisfied with the product. We are happy to refund your purchase. Your satisfaction is guaranteed.
Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc.
One other thought I would like to share with you. Every thousand dollars we spend will cost you a million dollars to repair the damage. We have access to more thousands than you have access to millions.
One full page ad in the Jerusalem Post International edition will cost you $2-3 million to counter, and you will remain with the stigma. Your stock will fall at least 10% the following Monday.
And wait till you see what's coming on the Internet! You'll love it.
Or - you can retract your anti-democratic, anti-Jewish boycott publicly.
If you don't - I'd go short with a sell on opening and a buy at close position on Monday October 5, 1998.
Tishrei 5759 (28/9/98)
RE: Ben & Jerry's Deal with Eden Put on Ice by Sami Sockol (20/9/98)
Dear Ms. Grossman,
Shalom and blessings for a great 5759!
As a result of this article a great amount of energy has been mobilized that has the potential to seriously affect the financial well-being of Ben & Jerry's franchise in Israel, as well as the parent company in the U.S.
In pursuit of verification of the stated facts in the article we contacted both Ben & Jerry's and Mei Eden. Both companies claim that they are continuing on with business as usual and that there is no basis in fact to the claims made in the article.
Our question is this: who is telling the truth? Do you stand behind the article as it was printed? Can you supply documentation to support it?
You may e-mail us your reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or fax it to 02-625-9050. As the matter is snowballing rapidly, we would appreciate an immediate reply.
Here's the latest. As of 5:00 pm Monday, 27th Septemer, Jerusalem time.
Today we spoke with Mr. Yosi Strogo from the sales department at Ben & Jerry's headquarters in Israel. Mr. Strogo told me that the Ben & Jerry's licensee in Israel is completely independent of the U.S. company and receives no directives regarding their business dealings in Israel.
He went on to say that Ben & Jerry's never had a contract with Mei Eden, and furthermore they sell Mei Eden bottles of mineral water in their shops, today as in the past, and that they have no intention of ceasing to do so.
We have received official confirmation from the Spokeswoman at Mei Eden, Ms. Dafna Triwaks, that indeed, they have never had a contract with Ben & Jerry's, and that they continue to deliver their products to the Ben & Jerry's franchises today. Furthemore, they have received no word from Ben & Jerry's of intention to discontinue their patronage.
We have returned to Ha'aretz, the newspaper that broke the story, for their comment.
Before we fold up the tents - we have been told by Ms. Elizabeth Bankowski, Senior Director of Ben & Jerry's in the U.S., that this indeed was done and it represents corporate policy. Avi Zinger, the licensee in Israel, in an interview with Arutz 7, verified that it did take place as a result of pressure.
What is the truth?
We'll keep you posted.
To whom it may concern:
I was absolutely disgusted to hear of your caving in to Arab threats. The Golan Heights, while of no importance to you, is a very significant part of Israel's geography, and we are determined not to let the Syrians use it as a convenient way of attacking us any longer. We will never come down from the Golan, and our settlements there will continue to prosper with G-d's help. The Mei Eden company will do their business just fine without you. But Ben and Jerry's, and all others who prove to be enemies of Israel, will have their downfall, just wait and see.
In the meantime, I will not buy any of your ice cream and I will tell all my friends to boycott you as well.
I was informed that you decided not to sell Mei Eden products in your stores, since it is produced in the Golan Heights, an "occupied territory", that in your opinion must be given back to the Syrian dictatorship.
I inform you that, if this is true, I will stop buying Ben & Jerry products until you give North America back to the Apaches, Comanches, Cherokees, Sioux and other dozens of "Native American" nations that were systematically exterminated by the good and civilized European immigrants.
Perhaps you should also consider some kind of compensation for the thousands of Japanese killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the women and children that died in Vietnam.
Oh, before I forget, please send my warm compliments to your brilliant president, Bill Clinton, who should be a source of pride for every American citizen.
In God we trust. Do you?
IMRA's weekly talk on Arutz 7 Radio, on 23rd September, 1998.
Ben & Jerry's keeps putting its foot in its mouth trying to explain why they bowed to Leftist and Arab pressure to drop Mei Eden's Golan water as an ingredient in part of its Israeli line.
Now here is a beauty just out yesterday from Elizabeth Bankowski, Senior Director of Ben & Jerry's.
While explaining their leftist track record, she writes in a form letter response to critics that "in 1991, at the height of the Persian Gulf conflict, Ben & Jerry's initiated and enlisted 18 other companies to sign a full page ad in the New York Times urging then-President Bush to allow the sanctions to work. Those actions, like this one, were controversial and provocative but in our view a consistent expression of our values."
If Bush had listened to Ben & Jerry's back in 1991, the US would have given Saddam Hussein the few months he need to complete the preparation of nuclear bombs.
If Ben & Jerry's had had their way there might be no Jewish state today. And instead of an Israeli Ben & Jerry's franchise I guess there would be a memorial flavor - perhaps sabra?
And yet instead of apologizing, or at least keeping quiet about an embarrassing past, Elizabeth Bankowski, Senior Director of Ben & Jerry's boasts about it.
Dear Ben and Jerry's Inc,
As a long time fan of your ice cream, I regret to inform you that because of your anti-jewish policy of refusing to use "Eden" mineral water on the basis of it's plant's location in the Golan Heights, I will not be purchasing any of your products until I have heard that you reconsidiered your policy. It doesn't take brains to know tht the Golan Heights are crucial to Israel's security, to put them in the hands of the aggresive-terrorism supporting state of Syria would be playing russian roulette with the lives of thousands of peace-loving Israelis in the north of Israel. If you lived in Kiriat Shemoneh or Metullah you might feel the same way.
P E, Jerusalem
PS. I'm just one customer, but there are thousands more who feel as I do.
ZOA Accuses Ben & Jerry's of Siding with Syria
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned the decision by Ben & Jerry's to cancel a contract with Mei Eden, a mineral water company based in the Golan Heights.
The ZOA accused the ice cream company of succumbing to Arab pressure.
Zoa National President Morton A. Klein wrote that by boycotting the Golan, Ben & Jerry's is deciding that Syria is right and Israel is wrong.
"Ben & Jerry's is venturing down a 'rocky road' by delving into historical areas with which it is obviously unfamiliar and endorsing the historical revisionism of Arab propagandists who falsely claim that the Golan belongs to Syria," Klein wrote.
Ben & Jerry's spokesman Lee Holden said this week that the company discussed the situation with Avi Zinger, the owner of the Ben & Jerry's franchise in Israel.
Holden denied that the company was pressured into cancelling the water contract.
"This was a decision he made independently, and we of course discussed the issue with him, and suggested he do whatever he felt is best for his business in Israel," Holden said from company headquarters in South Burlington, Vermont.
Holden said the company did not believe Zinger intended to make any political statement.
But he added, "we understand his action, though very limited, violates the spirit of the peace process and he had no intention of doing that or making a statement to that effect."
Local shoppers didn't seem to be aware of the controversy, and oncce told, didn't seem to be bothered.
"I buy ice cream for the taste not for where they buy their water from," customer Efraim Ciobotara told a reporter yesterday.
Shai Davidi contributed to this report.
The Jersalem Post
Many Jewish ice cream aficionados around the globe will be angered to learn that Ben & Jerry's Israel licensee has knuckled under to threats by "New Yorkers for a Just Middle East Peace," the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Gush Shalom by cancelling their contract to buy Mei Eden water from the Golan Heights for use in their sherbets (20th September)
The New Yorkers and their fellow peace warriors seem to feel that by boycotting Golan Heights products (and those manufactured by Jews in Judea, Sammaria, Gaza and parts of Jerusalem) they will advance "peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors."
In this century alone boycotts against purchasing Jewish products were organized in Germany (1933-1939); Poland (1921-1939), and even in the United States by the infamous Father Coughlin and the Ku Klux Klan in the 1930's. But they were organized by fanatic, Jew-hating antisemitic movements.
Sadly, in the current Ben & Jerry's case the boycotters are Jews, who in my opinion are so consumed by self-hatred and hatred of their fellow Jews that they enlisted an Arab-American group to help promote the boycott. Uri Avneri of Gush Shalom and his misled American cohorts are trying to divide the Jewish people rather than bring true peace and unity.
Ironically Ben & Jerry's sherbet consumers will continue to imbibe Golan Heights water in every spoonful of their sherbet: A very large proportion of the water supply of the country flows from the Heights, via the Kinneret and the National Water Carrier, right to our faucets. (Maybe that's one good reason, among many, to retain the Golan Heights).
No doubt an impromptu counter-boycott of Ben & Jerry's products will spring up, because Jews everywhere will express their disgust at the supermarket cash register.
J & M B, Haifa