Rabbis Criticize Efforts to Target Ben & Jerry’s for Decision to Stop Sales in Occupied Territories

RELEASE DATE: July 22, 2021

NEW YORK — Today, T’ruah, a rabbinic human rights organization that represents over 2,000 rabbis and cantors and their communities in North America, released the following statement in reaction to Israeli officials, including Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Ambassador Gilad Erdan, calling for American states to prosecute Ben & Jerry’s under anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) laws based on the company’s decision to stop sales in the occupied Palestinian territories. T’ruah previously filed amicus briefs in several states, most recently in support of a challenge to Arkansas’s anti-BDS law, and has spoken out against previous attempts to invoke anti-BDS laws.

Rabbi Les Bronstein, board co-chair of T’ruah, released the following statement: 

“We are rabbis who care deeply about Israel and who do not support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. We also strongly believe that Israel’s continued occupation thwarts a just and sustainable two-state solution and thus endangers Israel’s security, democracy, and Jewish character.

“Israeli officials’ assertion that Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop sales in the occupied territories is antisemitic is a deliberate attempt to distract from the significant human rights violations faced by Palestinians every day. Falsely painting any attempt to hold Israel to the same human rights obligations as other countries as antisemitic only makes it harder to counter actual acts of antisemitism when they happen. The Israeli government should be a leader in the fight against antisemitism. Instead, at a time when antisemitism is on the rise, their comments are counterproductive and harmful.  

“Furthermore, asking the U.S. to target the company under unconstitutional anti-BDS laws is political gamesmanship with very real consequences. We call on American officials to reject the request to penalize Ben & Jerry’s under anti-BDS laws, which violate the First Amendment and open the door to much broader government control of public discourse while doing nothing to protect Israel or Jews. These laws also conflate sovereign Israel with territories occupied by Israel, violating long-standing U.S. policy and inconsistent with Israel’s own definitions of its borders.”

 

About T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights mobilizes a network of more than 2,000 rabbis and cantors from all streams of Judaism that, together with the Jewish community, act on the Jewish imperative to respect and advance the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call upon Jews to assert Jewish values by raising our voices and taking concrete steps to protect and expand human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories.