Yair Lapid, Israel's foreign minister and alternative prime minister, demanded Monday that American states enforce anti-BDS laws against ice cream company Ben & Jerry's.
What is the background?
Ben & Jerry's is most well-known for ice cream flavors like "Phish Food," "Cherry Garcia," "Chunky Monkey," "Chocolate Fudge Brownie," among others. What consumers may not know about the company, however, is that its owners are notorious liberals along the ideological lines of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
So on Monday, the company bowed to anti-Israel activists and announced its ice cream would no longer be sold in the "Occupied Palestinian Territory."
"We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry's ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory," the company said, referring to the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Ironically, Ben & Jerry's refused to take a completely principled stance, admitting in the very same statement they will continue to take money from happy Israeli costumers — those they believe support the alleged illegal occupation of Palestinian territories — but through "a different arrangement."
What did Lapid say?
Lapid vowed Israel would not be silent after Ben & Jerry's announcement, which Lapid called a "shameful surrender to antisemitism."
"Ben & Jerry's decision represents shameful surrender to antisemitism, to BDS and to all that is wrong with the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discourse," Lapid said. "We will not be silent."
The top Israeli leader added that U.S. states with laws opposing the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions movement — which seeks to destroy Israel — should enforce those laws in the wake of Ben & Jerry's announcement.
"Over 30 states in the United States have passed anti-BDS legislation in recent years. I plan on asking each of them to enforce these laws against Ben & Jerry's," Lapid said. "They will not treat the State of Israel like this without a response."
What about anti-BDS laws?
To date, 35 states have passed laws or adopted executive orders considered "anti-BDS."
Lawyer Timothy Cuffman explained the nature of the laws:
Though the specific provisions of anti-BDS laws vary widely, they have taken two primary forms: (1) contract-focused laws that condition the receipt of government contracts on an entity certifying that it is not boycotting and will not boycott Israel; and (2) investment-focused laws that mandate public investment funds to divest from entities involved in boycotts of Israel.
Congress has introduced anti-BDS legislation — like the Israel Anti-Boycott Act and Combating BDS Act — but neither bill became law despite both passing in the respective chamber where they were introduced.
Most opponents of anti-BDS legislation claim such laws violate the First Amendment.