Pints of Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough and Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. (Photo/Flickr-Kami Jo)
Pints of Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough and Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. (Photo/Flickr-Kami Jo)

Two pints of Ben & Jerry’s for a two-state solution

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After living in the Bay Area with my Israeli wife for 44 years, and having fallen in love with Israel when I worked on a kibbutz more than 50 years ago, and having been there countless times since, and devoting a good deal of my time and resources to making sure the U.S. government does what it can to help bring about a two-state solution, I want to share what’s been revealed to me by the reaction to Ben & Jerry’s settlement boycott.

For the vast majority of Israelis, as evidenced by center-leftist leaders such as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and President Isaac Herzog, who called Ben & Jerry’s action, respectively, antisemitic and terrorist, there is no Green Line — the settlements are in Israel, so there is no difference between boycotting them and boycotting Israel.

Hats off to the religious Zionists whose single-minded pursuit of creeping annexation is clearly succeeding!

Critics who use “BDS” to label Ben & Jerry’s move don’t know what BDS is, or don’t want to know.

BDS is not only about boycotting Israel (which, in spite of the preceding paragraph, does not include the settlements); it is about putting an end to the whole concept of a Jewish state.

Ben & Jerry’s is not boycotting Israel and is,  in fact, explicitly saying it wants to keep doing business with Israel, the Jewish state.

The principled action of one internationally known ice cream brand (started by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, two remarkable mensches) has caused an awful lot of angst in Israel and in the U.S. Jewish community, with calls for boycotts and even U.S. government action, against Ben & Jerry’s and its parent, Unilever.

Yes, there may be unanswered questions about how their rather vague boycott would be applied in practice, but can you imagine what the effect might be if a dozen international companies decided, as has the Israeli McDonald’s franchisee since 2013, not to do business in Israeli settlements?

After 54 years of an occupation that has succeeded in enabling a corrupt and increasingly authoritarian Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and in growing popular support for Hamas, a fanatical and murderous regime in Gaza that is dedicated to Israel’s destruction, and without any realistic alternative to a two-state solution, I believe that we should support any nonviolent actions that help bring about a demilitarized Palestinian state living in peace and security with a democratic Jewish state as its neighbor. In other words, the founding Zionist dream.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of J.

Charles Kremer
Charles Kremer

Charles Kremer is president and founder of Access Leasing Corporation, which he founded in 1984, and a board member of J Street and the Alliance for Middle East Peace. He lives in Berkeley with his artist wife, Naomie.