The announcement from Ben & Jerry’s that they will cease selling their ice cream in the Israeli-controlled West Bank is being met with pushback from officials at the federal, state, and local level who are calling for a boycott of the Unilever-owned company.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., urged Americans to "take a stand" against Ben & Jerry’s following the decision.
"I think it’s really important that Americans here send a message to Ben & Jerry’s by not buying their ice cream, quite frankly," Malliotakis said in an interview with former Democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind. "To try to deprive people of their ice cream is really just outrageous and they shouldn’t be participating in what is the BDS movement."
That movement calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against the Jewish state as a means of pressuring them to withdraw from the territory, which is already under partial Palestinian control. The BDS movement said they "welcome" Ben & Jerry’s decision, while calling for them to go further by ending sales throughout Israel.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price would not weigh in on Ben & Jerry’s specifically during a Tuesday press briefing, but he expressed the Biden administration’s rejection of BDS and support for Israel.
"What I will say is that we firmly reject the BDS movement, which unfairly singles out Israel," Price said. "While the Biden Harris administration will fully and always respect the First Amendment rights of our citizens, of the American people, the United States will be a strong partner in fighting efforts around the world that potentially seek to delegitimize Israel and will work tirelessly, tirelessly to support Israel's further integration into the international community."
In Pennsylvania, however, Republican State Rep. Aaron Kaufer called out the Unilever-owned ice cream makers and in a Tuesday letter urged the state’s governor, attorney general, and treasurer to enforce a law that prohibits the state from contracting with a firm unless it certifies that it will not engage in a boycott of a person or entity that does business within their jurisdiction.
The law specifically notes that it is in the interest of the U.S. "to stand with Israel and other countries by promoting trade and commercial activities and to discourage policies that disregard that interest."
"Ben & Jerry’s surrendered to a continuous and aggressive campaign from extreme anti-Jewish and anti-Israel groups," Kaufer said in his letter, adding that Pennsylvania officials "must work together, enforce the law and stand with Israel."
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined those condemning Ben & Jerry’s decision, stating on Tuesday that it is "a mistake" and that "they shouldn’t do this."
While stopping short of encouraging fellow New Yorkers to stop supporting Ben & Jerry’s, de Blasio did say that he "won’t be eating any more Cherry Garcia for a while."