July 22, 2021

In Brief: Who Cares What Ben & Jerry Think?

Ben & Jerry’s — founded by two hippies, but now owned by corporate giant Unilever — hates Israel.

Ben & Jerry’s is famous for ice cream, but the company is also infamous for leftist political stands. Political analyst Tom Slater writes:

When you think of the Israel-Palestine conflict, ice cream doesn’t usually come up. But that may be about to change. Ben & Jerry’s has finally broken its silence, announcing [Monday] that it will “end sales of our ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territory.” Perhaps in the years ahead we’ll come to see this depriving Israeli settlers of Caramel Chew Chew and Truffle Kerfuffle as some kind of tipping point.

We won’t, of course, because that’s ridiculous. As is a Vermont-based over-priced ice-cream brand weighing in on far-flung conflicts. But that seems to be where we’re at now — with corporate America in general and with Ben & Jerry’s in particular. Now no modish cause is too important or complicated for big-name brands to weigh in, be it defunding the police in the US or settlements in the West Bank.

Ben & Jerry’s — founded by two hippies, but now owned by corporate giant Unilever — has become increasingly outspoken in recent years. Back in 2017, it took a brave stand for gay marriage in Australia by banning the sale of two scoops of the same flavor in Aussie shops. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, it issued a solemn pledge to ‘dismantle white supremacy’ and issued then President Trump and Congress with a series of demands.

Who wants politics with their ice cream, though? Not normal Americans. And it’s doubly strange that the company is taking a “brave” stand against Israel when you consider that cofounder Ben Cohen was raised by Jewish parents. Slater continues:

One question that is more puzzling is why more and more corporations feel the need to do this kind of thing, so much of which feels hollow and hypocritical. …

It would be easy, then, to dismiss woke capitalism as simply opportunistic. Often these firms’ PR departments do not appear to have thought much about the issues they are holding forth on. But that so many firms carry on doing this, risking controversy and enraging customers along the way, suggests it is all on some level sincere.

Increasingly self-loathing business leaders see in debates around race, identity and even Israel a moral purpose they otherwise feel they lack. But that doesn’t make the hectoring of firms like Ben & Jerry’s any easier to swallow.

Read the whole thing here.

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