In a press briefing Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the Biden administration “firmly rejects” the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement amid Ben & Jerry’s corporate decision to discontinue ice-cream sales in ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory,’ by which it meant the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Price said that while the administration will not react to the actions of a private company, “we firmly reject the BDS movement, which unfairly singles out Israel.”
The BDS global campaign seeks to sever business ties with the Jewish state through boycotts, divestment, and sanctions as a means of non-violent coercion to end the ‘Israeli apartheid regime’ and its alleged illegal settlements, as well as to grant return to Palestinian refugees to their ancestral homes on the Israeli territory.
“While the Biden-Harris administration will fully and always respect the First Amendment rights of our citizens, of the American people, the United States will be a strong partner in fighting efforts around the world that potentially seek to delegitimize Israel and will work tirelessly to support Israel’s further integration into the international community,” he added.
Price’s comments come after the Vermont-headquartered and historically progressive Ice cream brand announced Monday it is cancelling a licensing agreement that had established a factory which has produced and distributed in Israel since the 1980s.
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” the company wrote in a statement. “We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.” The company clarified that it will keep its presence in Israel but “through a different arrangement,” which it has not yet explained.
An activist organization named Vermonters for Justice in Palestine teamed up with Decolonize Burlington, a group with a related mission, to orchestrate a boycott against Ben & Jerry’s over its commercial connection to the Israeli market. The coalition pressured the company to terminate its contract with Israeli manufacturers.
In the past, the household favorite has been outspoken on a number of hot-button social-justice issues such as refugee rights, climate change, and racial inequality. It vocally supported Black Lives Matter and shared its outrage on social media over the shootings of African Americans by police in the last year.
“If Ben & Jerry’s wants to profit off of anti-racist messaging, they need to be consistent,” Decolonize Burlington commenced in a May 19 Instagram post, according to the Burlington Free Press. “The BLM movement has publicly supported the Palestinian cause. It’s time for Ben & Jerry’s to divest from their holdings in Israel.”