Australian kosher board delists Ben & Jerry’s

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Vermont ice cream entrepreneurs Ben Cohen, left, and Jerry Greenfield pose for photos in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

By Meira Svirsky, World Israel News

The Australian kosher certification board KA delisted Ben & Jerry’s ice cream on Wednesday in protest of the company’s announcement on Monday that it would no longer distribute its products in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the ice cream giant’s reference to Judea and Samaria.

In a statement, KA said that while its board has listed Ben & Jerry’s products as kosher for many years, “That ended this week with its deletion, in support of those who proudly reside in Yehuda v’Shomron (Judea and Samaria).”

The board noted that the product still remains certified kosher by the international organization Chof-K, but that KA chose to take the move as a “small stance on a global scale.”

The boycott by the ice cream giant has created a flurry of worldwide protests, with dozens of stores and chains announcing they would no longer carry Ben & Jerry’s products. Prominent politicians and media personalities also joined in.

“Ben & Jerry’s International chose to suck up to terrorist and anti-Semitic organizations instead of being faithful to its Israeli licensee,” tweeted Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, while on a solidarity visit to an Israeli Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Be’er Tuvia.

In a video posted on social media, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said, “I will not be eating any more Cherry Garcia for awhile,” an allusion to his favorite flavor.

De Blasio added that it was “sad to me” that the “good people” who founded the company, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, were making the “mistake” of boycotting Israel in this way.

“BDS [Boycott, Sanction and Divest] is a movement that will undermine peace in the Middle East. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “You cannot have peace if you undermine the economic reality and create division. I just believe it’s absolutely the wrong approach and I don’t think Ben & Jerry’s should be doing that.”

Many commentators have noted that while the BDS movement has made minimal impact on the Israeli economy over the years, Palestinians have suffered greatly from it due the loss of their jobs when companies pull out of Judea and Samaria.

“Whereas the movement’s spokespeople live in comfortable circumstances abroad, boycotts will result in increased economic hardships for actual Palestinians,” said Bassem Eid, a Palestinian human rights activist.

In a famous case in 2015, hundreds of Palestinians lost well-paying jobs when the well-known Israeli company Soda Stream, facing a barrage of BDS activism, relocated its factory out of Judea and Samaria. The company was known for the good relations between its Palestinian and Jewish workers.