Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked on Wednesday visited the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Israel in a show of support of its CEO, Avi Zinger, who is fighting the parent company’s recent decision to halt sales in Judea and Samaria.
“It’s not the Israeli Ben & Jerry’s that needs to be boycotted,” she said. “On the contrary, we need to buy Ben & Jerry’s Israel.”
During the factory visit, Shaked said that the government was working with Jewish groups, evangelical communities and Israel supporters in the United States to boycott the ice-cream brand there until it reverses its decision.
“I call on Israeli citizens to keep buying Ben & Jerry’s Israel. This factory employs 160 workers and many dairy farms in the area. We have a year-and-a-half to change this anti-Semitic decision,” she concluded.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett slammed Ben & Jerry’s decision, tweeting on Monday: “There are many ice cream brands, but only one Jewish state. Ben & Jerry’s decided to brand itself as the anti-Israel ice cream. This decision is morally wrong and I believe that it will become clear that it is also commercially wrong. The boycott against Israel—a democracy surrounded by islands of terrorism—reflects a total loss of way. The boycott does not work and will not work, and we will fight it with full force.”
The company’s Israeli franchise holder said in a statement that “Ben & Jerry’s decided not to renew the agreement with us in 18 months’ time because of our refusal to stop selling the product across Israel. We call on the government and on consumers not to allow a boycott of Israel. This is an unprecedented action on the part of Unilever, the owner of Ben & Jerry’s Inc. Ice cream is not part of politics. We call on Israelis to continue buying the local product, which provides a livelihood to hundreds of workers in the south.”
Avi Kendler, the company’s vice president, said that the Israeli franchisee “has no intention of breaking the law by boycotting parts of the country. State officials have been apprised of the situation, and I hope they can change Ben & Jerry’s decision.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.