A Different Perspective: Boycotting Ben & Jerry's

I just got off the phone with my friend James Leikin. They own our local Ben & Jerry’s store. Trust me when I say that he is far more distraught over the statement below than you or I.

They are franchisees, i.e. they own their store independently and pay to use the Ben & Jerry’s brand and products. They agree with all of us and anyone who chooses to now boycott Ben & Jerry’s over this insidious decision and statement. They plan to work internally to “wake up” the company whose decisions affect their business in such a drastic way. This statement means far more to them than to us.

I will continue to support the Leikins, and boycott this disgraceful decision beyond.

Below is a letter that Jim wrote to Heintz, Ph.D. Debra (Director-retail Operations at Ben & Jerry’s) a few days ago in anticipation of today’s statement:

Debra,

I hope all is well with you, your family, and everyone in Vermont. I wanted to send you this email regarding your recent memo, hopefully, it is something that we can discuss going forward.

I read your recent memo regarding the Boston Globe Article and I need to tell you that I was really stunned and hurt. In your memo, you reference the area referred to as the West Bank (the Samaria and Judah Territory) in Israel as the “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”. Not sure you realize what this reference means. The one thing you should know is this reference stirs a lot of emotions in a lot of people, and hopefully, your use of this reference was not done for that purpose.

This description of this area was coined by a Palestinian Nationalist journalist for the purpose of spreading antisemitism in American, create hatred toward American Jews, and making the world sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. It is not based on fact, and I am happy to discuss the history of this area and the status of the area with you anytime. I have researched this subject, read articles and books representing both sides, and have sympathies with both the Palestinians and the Israelis.

So here are my questions. Why are you using this phase in this memo? Is this a political statement that Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever are making? Will this appear in social media in the future? Will it become a new flavor?

I really need to know these answers, Ben & Jerry’s use of this phase in social media would be devasting to me personally, and to the viability of my store. I think you should know this now as we went through this 2 years ago, and I really do not want to go through it again. I would like to get your response and have a productive discussion regarding this subject with you or anyone else who thinks this phrase “Occupied Palestinian Territory” should be used by our company going forward. I believe that its use is in contradiction to what Ben & Jerry’s stands for and our initiatives against hate.

I look forward to your response. Thanks as always for listening.

Jim