Letters to the editor October 13, 2021: Ben & Jerry trip on a query
Ben & Jerry trip on a query
The shocking new Axios interview with Ben and Jerry, subject of Herb Keinon’s “What an interview with Ben & Jerry reveals” (October 11) made me proud to be a female – interviewer Alexi McCammond was fabulous.
She exposed why Ben and Jerry think that bashing the only Jewish country in the world is an okay thing for them to do.
It’s because “settlements are illegal.”
How fascinating it is to observe the deep psychological roots of the aggressive Euro-Arab settlement illegality rhetoric. In the eyes of the uninformed – like Ben and Jerry, or Hamas – so-called “settlement illegality” always excuses hostility toward Israel, be it boycotts or terrorism, respectively.
In contrast, unbiased legal experts such as Prof. Eugene Rostow, an eminent international law authority and a dean of Yale Law School, emphasized that it is impossible to seriously contend that Israeli settlements are illegal. The government of Israel relies on his erudite approach, which Israel has a legal right to do.
It is thus high time for Jewish Ben and Jerry to either boycott all the countries in the world, as they put it in the Axios interview – or to stop their boycott against one-fifth of Israel. Because their boycott does not have a leg to stand on.
Waiting to hear from you, Ben and Jerry.
Spokesperson, Mattot Arim; Rehovot, Israel
Regarding “Ben and Jerry: W, Bank sales halt isn’t Israel boycott” (October 12), the great “Crusaders for Justice” have a problem. They are not leading the fight to right wrongs. They are merely following the dictates of “woke” progressives.
Ben and Jerry are embarrassed because the ice cream bearing their name is still being sold in Texas. Do they know that a large group of Orthodox rabbis issued a statement, saying that the Texas law is in accord with Halacha? The rabbis state that, indeed, the unborn child has a right to life, unless the pregnancy threatens the mother. Then, the mother’s life takes precedence over the child’s potential life.
Ben and Jerry are also embarrassed that the ice cream bearing their name is still being sold in Georgia, which has recently passed legislation that is said to “curtail voting rights.” In fact, the new rules make voting easier and cheating harder, by allowing extended early voting but insisting that voter ID be required.
As regards sales of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream beyond the Green Line, the gentlemen from Vermont need a history lesson. The Arabs of Palestine were denied their first-ever chance at autonomy when Arab states rejected the UN Partition Plan in the 1940s and went to war trying to prevent the emergence of a modern Jewish state in the Jews’ ancestral homeland. As a result of Arab aggression, Egypt gained control of Gaza and Transjordan occupied eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (dubbing those areas “The West Bank” and changing its own name to Jordan). Israel liberated the occupied land in 1967, only after Jordanian troops fired on Israeli-controlled western Jerusalem, as Jordan allied with Egypt and Syria in a war instigated with open genocidal intent.
In its founding charter, issued in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization specifically denied any claim to land then held by Egypt and Jordan. In 1968, Israel offered to withdraw from (some) land liberated in the Six Day War in return for recognition and peace. The offer was rejected by the Arab League. Both Yasser Arafat (2000/2001) and Mahmoud Abbas (2008) rejected Israeli proposals that could have led to the establishment of a Palestinian state on essentially all the disputed land, even with the possibility of joint governance in parts of Jerusalem.
But Ben and Jerry don’t want to deal with Jews who dare to live on land of religious and historic importance to them, land from which many of Jewish families were ethnically cleansed during Jordan’s illegal occupation, land on which the Jews have built businesses that employ both Jews and Palestinians and serve both Jewish and Palestinian consumers. And Ben and Jerry want us to believe that they are champions of freedom and justice?
TOBY F. BLOCK
What the interview between Axios and Ben Cohen (Ben & Jerry’s) reveals is that Left-leaning Jews are completely oblivious to their own antisemitism. The fact that they contribute to the antisemitic BLM or that they single out Israel for condemnation is something that has not dawned upon them, which is very strange because this is the precise definition of antisemitism according to the IHRA.
Ben Cohen thinks that he’s protected from the accusation of antisemitism because he’s Jewish. He evidently is not familiar with the role played by Jews in the Communist movement and how they contributed to the demise of Judaism in the Soviet Union.
With friends like him, who needs enemies?
When pressed, the only reason that Ben Cohen could come up with for his partial boycott against Israel – that the presence of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is “illegal by international law” – is false. Unbiased international law experts (of which he is not one) recognize the complexity of this issue: the history of the land, the unique legal circumstances, etc. Ill-informed opinions and actions like Cohen’s only harm the chances for peace, making PA leaders more intransigent.
Cohen may know something about making ice cream, but in this interview, he reveals how embarrassingly little he knows about the Middle East.
The Ben & Jerry’s boycott of the historical heartland of Israel will not have much negative effect on the residents of communities there, but it certainly has had a negative effect on the stock value of B&J’s parent company Unilever, which plummeted more than 500 points from above 4,350 before the misguided anti-Israel announcement last July to an anemic 3,850 yesterday. Several US states have already divested from the stock and others are likely to do so.
The B&J boycott decision may have been “woke,” but it was neither smart nor moral.
Ronald Lauder: Please speak louder
Ronald Lauder is correct that the antisemitic information war against Israel and the Jewish people must be fought aggressively. (“The War Israel Must Fight,” October 11). However the antisemitic forces arrayed- against truth are enormous: between 1986 and 2018 Muslim countries poured 6.5 billion dollars into the American university system to promote their political agenda and the foundational antisemitism of the Koran.
The effect of this multi-billion-dollar-backed antisemitic poisonous pedagogy has been substantial in the news media, in universities and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Lauder and his allies in Israel and the concerned Jewish alumni in the Diaspora must investigate and root out this Jew hatred masquerading as education that is being “taught” across America.
Ronald S. Lauder’s opinion piece on the war that Israel must fight correctly points out that Israel and her supporters are at risk to lose the information war, in part because the Israeli government has not taken it seriously enough. He is correct to point out that this could have terrible consequences, as an increasing number of people, crucially including younger people destined for positions of power, are brainwashed with anti-Israel propaganda in schools and on social media. His idea for a Cabinet-level Ministry of Hasbara has much merit, but there is still an important point being overlooked.
Specifically much of hasbara (and the efforts of many well-meaning people seeking to support Israel) is reactive rather than proactive. The anti-Israel forces – including the Palestinian Arabs; Iran; corrupted media outlets like The New York Times; the United Nations; numerous Internet trolls; and antisemites worldwide spew forth a daily ocean of mudslinging lies and calumnies about Israel. Only afterwards are carefully reasoned, factual rebuttals offered up in the presumed spirit of rational discourse. But Israel’s enemies don’t care about factual rebuttals or reasoned discourse, and once emitted, much of the damage caused by these anti-Israel lies and calumnies remains, subsequent rebuttals notwithstanding.
So it is necessary for Israel and her allies to begin implementation of more proactive efforts, rather than merely responding post-hoc to anti-Israel propaganda. Yes, an empowered Israeli Ministry of Hasbara would be a great start, but such a ministry should focus on proactively disseminating attractive and truthful messages about Israel’s numerous strong points in an effective public relations campaign. Similarly Israel’s supporters in the Diaspora would do well to begin more proactive initiatives to communicate Israel’s strong points, in both actual locations such as schools and campuses and in the virtual social media sphere.
We cannot sit back and merely respond after the fact to the daily depredations of an information war aimed at Israel’s destruction. As is often the case in a war, and as demonstrated frequently in Israel’s history, the best defense is a good offense.
DANIEL H. TRIGOBOFF, PH.D.
Williamsville, New York
What is it with the Merkel visit?
Regarding “Merkel: Iran talks must be renewed swiftly” (October 11, 2021), German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett come from different worlds. Merkel’s country, the most powerful EU member, is quite far from the dangerous neighborhood Bennett’s country is in.
Both leaders interpret history based on their own needs.
The EU hopes to resurrect JCPOA, US president Barack Obama’s folly that gave Iran billions of dollars and a pathway to nuclear arsenal (or perhaps Obama’s purpose was to force Israel into an untenable position). Nothing America, the EU or Israel does will alter Iran’s nuclear plans by one iota. That the Islamic state speaks untruths to an infidel to gain an advantage is common practice. The West knows it, but pretends not to.
As for making peace with the Palestinian Arabs and having two states living side-by-side, Merkel offers no pathway and Bennett does not see it happening under current Arab leadership.
The PA demands turning the clock back to resurrect the irrelevant temporary 1949 armistice lines as a permanent border, the expel a half-million Jews from “Palestine,” and flood what would remain of Israel with an influx of millions of Arabs claiming to be descendants of refugees.
Hamas wants to replace Israel. Period.
So, thanks for the visit, Merkel. Perhaps it was at least good PR.
PA ‘slayments’? Confide in Biden
“Biden envoy talked with PA about dropping ‘pay for slay’” (October 7) reported that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr “discussed payments to individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism with Israeli and Palestinian officials.”
This article conveys a fundamental misunderstanding. The problem is not payments to terrorists. The problem is the unprecedented PA law that provides automatic salaries for life for anyone who commits an act of murdering – a salary for the killer and a salary for the family of the murderer.
Until that law is repealed, there is nothing to be discussed.
The question remains: When will the US and Israel condition funds for the PA on the cancellation of the pay for slay law?
Director, Near East Policy Research Center
Stick a fork in Impossible Pork
In “Why Impossible Pork should not be certified kosher” (October 10) David Zvi Kalman raises interesting questions about how Judaism has dealt with modern technological developments and how kashrut decisions should address innovations such as plant-based meat substitutes.
There is one overriding kashrut issue that urgently demands attention, however, and that is the irreconcilability of contemporary factory farming with the Jewish law banning tza’ar ba’alei chayim (the suffering of living creatures). On today’s factory farms, which supply virtually all the beef, dairy, poultry, and egg products sold in supermarkets, large numbers of animals are maintained cruelly in confined spaces for much of their lives and suffer gruesome treatment, all to maximize the efficiency and profitability of mass food production.
It does not seem that kashrut authorities will soon take tza’ar ba’alei chayim more seriously when granting kosher certificates. In the meantime, how does one avoid eating food that is certified kosher but really isn’t, given the suffering that factory farmed animals must endure? There are two alternatives.
Option one, for those who wish to continue eating meat and dairy products, is to purchase free-range eggs, which are available in most supermarkets, and to shop in selected stores that sell meat and poultry derived from animals that were raised humanely (often on kibbutzim).
Option two is to explore the wide range of protein substitutes now on the market – vegan-friendly products are widely accessible these days, both in supermarkets and in restaurants. This second option has other benefits as well, such as reducing carbon and methane emissions that contribute to climate change, curtailing wasteful water consumption and land use, and reversing many other ill effects of factory farming.
Whether or not you were tempted to try Impossible Pork, these options should be considered by observant and non-observant Jews alike.
Loony Rooney boycott move
Regarding “Israel Boycott: Sally Rooney won’t let novel be published in Hebrew,” (October 12), let’s face it, some people are just dense when it comes to politics. Jean-Paul Sartre supported president of the People’s Republic of China Mao Zedong when during the years he was in power some 65 million people were killed.
But there were novelists who were not blind, like Albert Camus.
As for Sally Rooney, one must really be illiterate not to see from the very name of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad what this is all about. Not surprising, coming from Ireland, whose prime minister de Valera had visited the German Legation in order to sign the book of condolences on the death of Adolf Hitler.
Where to be in 2023
Back in the days of my youth in the United States, I rose to the rank of senior patrol leader in the Boy Scouts. One of my tasks was to instill our motto “Be Prepared” into boys joining our troop.
None of that training, however, prepared me for the story “Red Hot Chili Peppers Israel-bound in 2023.” How embarrassing to be reminded that I had not yet begun to prepare my social calendar for two years hence!
Then again, I wonder how many of your other readers are beginning to put together their 2023 social calendars.
MICHAEL D. HIRSCH
Not shackled with shekel debt
Regarding “Israel is a lot less expensive than you thought” (October 11), one of the reasons we moved to Israel is that we couldn’t afford day schools and higher education for our children in the US.
Now they all have college degrees from Israeli universities and we managed it without borrowing money at all. If we had remained in the US, we would now be shouldering crippling student debt.
I believe Jews in the Diaspora should move to Israel for spiritual reasons – but it also happens to make good economic sense.
At least it did for us.