No cheers for Ben & Jerry’s

‘The actions of the company have undoubtedly contributed to a global campaign of hate rather than peace’

NEWFANE — Let's hold the cheers for Ben & Jerry's and review some history.

First, Joel Doerfler's commentary promotes a major factual inaccuracy about Israel's alleged illegal occupation. While reasonable people in Israel and around the world can and do criticize Israel's policies in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, its control over these territories is not “illegal.”

The West Bank and eastern Jerusalem were unlawfully seized by Jordan in 1948 and illegally occupied until 1967, when Israel pushed Jordan out in self-defense.

Former International Court of Justice Vice-President Stephen Schwebel stated that “Israel reacted defensively against the threat and use of force against her by her Arab neighbors.” He also wrote that “a State acting in the lawful exercise of its right of self-defense may seize and occupy foreign territory as long as such seizure and occupation are necessary to its self-defense.”

The Oslo Accords of 1993, to which Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed, stipulated that Israel will fully control eastern Jerusalem and 60 percent of the West Bank until the two parties negotiate a final peace deal. Israel has repeatedly agreed to leave most of these territories in return for peace, but Palestinian leaders have rejected every Israeli offer.

Therefore, Israel's rule is entirely legal under international treaties and continues primarily because of decisions made by the Palestinian leadership.

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Second, considering Israel an apartheid state, 1.9 million Arabs living in Israel can exercise political rights denied to the citizens of almost all Arab states.Arabs sit in the Knesset and on the Israeli Supreme Court, and they are part of the governing coalition.

Overall, Israel is the freest state in the entire region - the only place in the Middle East where tens of thousands of people can march for LGBTQ pride.

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Third, Israel evacuated its settlers and troops from Gaza in 2005, and the result was not peace but the rise of a genocidal Hamas regime that seeks Israel's annihilation.

The Palestinian Authority closely cooperates with Israeli forces in the West Bank to avoid another Hamas takeover there.

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Finally, Ben & Jerry's decision to pursue its “social mission” apparently is limited to Israel rather than other countries involved in territorial disputes.

For example, Ben & Jerry's seems to have no issue with operating two ice cream shops in Cyprus.

Cyprus, which has been subject to numerous foreign occupations, has been split between Turkey and Greece since being invaded by Turkish forces in 1974. The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus remains recognized only by Turkey itself.

However, the ice cream company apparently had no moral objections against opening a branch in Cyprus's contested and divided capital of Nicosia.

Ben & Jerry's also has no problem with its products being distributed in Gibraltar, which is currently at the center of a long-running dispute between the United Kingdom and Spain.

The island was originally Spanish before being captured by British and Dutch forces over 300 years ago. Madrid has refused to recognize British sovereignty over Gibraltar and previously suggested the English-speaking residents of the island are colonial settlers.

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While Mr. Doerfler wants to commend Ben & Jerry's for taking a stand, the actions of the company have undoubtedly contributed to a global campaign of hate rather than peace.

Fortunately for readers of The Commons, there are other Vermont ice creams from which to choose.

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