Republican senator calls for sales of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be blocked in his state

Republican senator calls for sales of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be blocked in his state
In a meltdown of his own, Sen James Lankford calls on legislators to boycott ice cream over it’s opposition to Israeli occupation of West Bank and east Jerusalem

An outraged Oklahoma Républicain senator has called on legislators to “block the sale of all Ben & Jerry’s” in his state after the brand announced that it would not renew an operating licence in Israel.

In a statement on Monday, founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield mentionné Ben & Jerry’s would not renew an operating licence for Israel because selling ice cream in occupied Palestinian territory was “inconsistent with our values”.

It added that an alternative “arrangement” would be found to serve ice cream in the country, which has controlled the West Bank and east Jerusalem since a war with Palestinians in 1967. While Israel says the territory is disputed, the international community largely disagrees, and says it is an illegal occupation.

Mercredi, GOP US senator James Lankford wrote in a tweeter that Ben & Jerry’s and its activist founders had “decided they know more about Jerusalem than the Israelis”, and called for it to be banned in Oklahoma, his home state.

“If Ben & Jerry’s wants to have a meltdown and boycott Israel, Oklahoma is ready to respond,” tweeted Sen Lankford on Wednesday. “We should immediately block the sale of all Ben & Jerry’s in the state and in any state-operated facility to align with our [anti-boycott] law.”

Oklahoma is among 34 US states with laws banning the boycotting of Israel or Israeli goods – otherwise known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – which has been blâmé for the delegitimisation and demonisation of Israelis, without any real results for Palestinians.

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Gilad Erdan, added in a letter on Tuesday that US state legislators should speak out “against the company’s decision” and look at “your [BDS] state laws and the commercial dealings between Ben and Jerry’s and your state”, comme The Times of Israel signalé.

Naftali Bennett, the Israeli prime minister, said he warned Unilever, the ice cream brand’s parent company, that Israel would “act aggressively against all boycott actions directed against its citizens”, and called Ben & Jerry’s actions a “clearly anti-Israel step” that will have “serious consequences, legal and otherwise”.

Alan Jope, Unilever’s chief executive, responded by saying: “We remain fully committed to our presence in Israel, where we have invested in our people, brands and business for several decades”.

Israel has historically been hostile towards US firms speaking out against its occupation of Palestinian territories, including Airbnb, which said in 2018 that it would no longer list properties in West Bank settlements – which are illegal under international law.

Sur Twitter, Sen Lankford was widely ridiculed for calling for a boycott of the ice cream brand, avec one user l'écriture: “By all means, block a product made in America by an American company from being sold in your state. Do this on behalf of a foreign power.”

“Shame on you for putting pandering to Israel above the First Amendment of the US Constitution!", the former director of the American Arab Institute, Omar Baddar, added in a tweet. “American companies have every right to respect international law and refrain from profiting off of land theft without being punished by the government, you un-American jack***!"

Ben & Jerry’s declined to comment on Sen Lankford’s remarks, when approached by L'indépendant.

Reportage supplémentaire par l'Associated Press.

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