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Ben & Jerry’s action deserves to be followed

by archyw

Last update 10:37

Vermont ice cream farmers support a two-state solution. Israelis will never agree to a settlement without a Jewish national home. They would rather fight than die, just like the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto back then

Ben & Jerry’s current licensee has no intention of complying with the boycott of the Palestinian-occupied territories declared by its parent company in the US state of Vermont. The contract expires at the end of next year. Only then will the Palestinians with enough money be deprived of the expensive upmarket ice creams sold worldwide under this Unilever brand. That is the inevitable consequence of the statement that Ben & Jerry’s released on July 17: the company no longer wants to see its products in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. It is not the case that the boycott is – as some media claim – limited to the illegal Jewish settlements.

The BDS movement calls this a step in the right direction. She won’t be satisfied until the ice cream maker boycotts all of Israel.

cc-photo: jpellgen

Ben & Jerry’s emphatically doesn’t do that. It’s for a two-state solution. That is the only way to bring peace to the long unholy land. Both Jews and Palestinians have the right to a national home. For the record: a national home is a country in which the diaspora is also welcome.

Only when they have that will it be possible for both peoples to see what divides them rather than what divides them. And that will be a lengthy process, because mutual distrust has only deepened over the past century. If the trillions now spent on war equipment could go to rebuilding, there will be a bright future for both a Jewish and a Palestinian national home, even if that unholy land is not much bigger than ours. You will get two urbanized societies side by side that will have to live on commerce and the development of high-quality products. That should in principle be possible.

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The BDS movement is demanding that Ben & Jerry’s go further and join with a broad boycott of the forces plotting Israel’s demise. The Israelis will not let this happen with impunity. It has to do with their collective memory. They have learned that accommodation and adaptation leads to destruction unless done from a position of strength. You can get very excited about that and say that you can’t saddle the Middle East with a trauma that was essentially created by the peoples of Europe and then you are right but it is the biggest right of the fish market. The BDS movement calls Israel an apartheid state and compares it to the old South Africa of Verwoerd and De Klerk. After all, that has also put the head in the lap.

At the time, South African white nationalists concluded that their position was hopeless. They determined in the early 1990s that they had not a single ally left in the world. Not formal and not informal. They also had a negotiating partner who was out to reconcile. They had no history of genocide.

The latter is the case with the Israelis. They will not agree to any peace settlement that does not include a national Jewish home. They would rather fight to the death, just like the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto at the time. They also have the example of the Lodz ghetto. The leadership managed to postpone the eviction until 1944 by continuing to bow, but eventually all inhabitants, including the leadership, were taken to Auschwitz. It is highly unwise to remain blind to this fact: Israel will – if the need arises – never take the path of Lodz, but that of Warsaw.

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In that case, the region will go down in blood and fire with a mushroom cloud here and there in the sky. That’s a fact. You can say no to that. They shouldn’t think like that out there in that part of the world based on ancestral experiences elsewhere, but they do.

Israel will have to make major concessions for security. This includes at least a total withdrawal from the occupied territories and a solution for Jerusalem that does justice to the Palestinian presence there. In that context, work can be done on a two-state solution. With their boycott, Ben & Jerry’s contribute to a political climate in which this becomes possible. That is why the company deserves to be followed. However, any attempted liquidation of Israel means death and destruction for everyone. That’s a fact. Similar fact: the descendants of the German refugees from Sudetenland, Silesia and East Prussia will never “get back” “their” land either.

For the rest, I am of the opinion that the allowance affair should not disappear from public attention, and neither should the issue of Groningen gas.

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