Ben & Jerry’s co-founders stumped on why ice cream brand singles out Israel, continues to serve red states

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Ben & Jerry’s co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are under fire after they failed to come up with a reason why they refuse to sell their ice cream in parts of Israel over political disagreements but do business in areas of the United States where they disagree with laws and policies. 

The progressive ice cream company has been vocal about social justice issues and announced earlier this year they will no longer be selling their desserts in “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Cohen and Greenfield, who no longer technically control the company but remain its public faces, appeared on “Axios on HBO” Sunday, where Axios’ Alexi McCammond asked why they don’t just remove their ice cream from Israel altogether. 

“Well, I disagree with the U.S. policy, we couldn’t stop selling in the U.S.,” Cohen said as he shrugged. 

“You guys are big proponents of voting rights,” McCammond said. “Why do you still sell ice cream in Georgia? Texas, abortion bans. Why are you still selling there?”

Cohen appeared dumbfounded as he shrugged and said, “I don’t know,” before chuckling. 

“It’s an interesting question. I don’t know what that would accomplish. We’re working on those issues, of voting rights,” Cohen said. “I don’t know. I think you ask a really good question. And I think I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit.”

McCammond, a left-leaning journalist known for being forced out as Teen Vogue’s editor in chief over her old tweets, returned to pressing the men over the Texas abortion law.

“By that reasoning, we should not sell any ice cream anywhere. I’ve got issues with what’s being done in most every state and most every country,” Cohen said. 

“One thing that’s different is that what Israel is doing is considered illegal by international law. And so I think that’s a consideration,” Greenfield added.

Cohen also insisted pulling Ben & Jerry’s from Israel isn’t about money, but simply that the co-founders “don’t want our ice cream sold in the occupied territories.” 

“It’s not a financial stance, it’s a policy stance,” he said. 

The co-founders appeared to see things differently when asked if they’re bothered when critics accuse them of anti-Semitism. 

“It’s absurd … what, I’m anti-Jewish? I mean, I’m a Jew,” Cohen said while laughing. “All my family is Jewish, my friends are Jewish.”

Greenfield admitted he understands where critics are coming from. 

“It’s a very emotional issue for a lot of people and I totally understand it, it’s a very painful issue,” Greenfield said. 

Cohen and Greenfield were quickly roasted on social media for the widely panned interview. 

Stand With Israel executive director Michael Dickenson called it a “car-crash interview” and said the non-answer proves “their Israel boycott is wrong-headed, unfair and yes – discriminatory.” 

Townhall’s Leah Barkoukis called it a “total trainwreck of an interview,” while The Spectator World called it “excruciating.” 

Many others took to Twitter with thoughts on the interview:

“We have a long-standing partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region,” the company said in a July press release. “We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year … Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement.”

The Vermont Ice cream giant received backlash from Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, after announcing the company would no longer sell its frozen desserts in “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

The announcement drew a sharp rebuke from Bennett and Netanyahu, with the current Israeli prime minister saying Ben & Jerry’s “decided to brand itself as anti-Israel ice cream.”

“The boycott against Israel … reflects that they have totally lost their way,” Bennett added. “The boycott doesn’t work and won’t work and we will fight it with all our might.”

“Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy,” Netanyahu tweeted on Monday, including emojis of the Israeli flag and a flexing bicep.

Ben & Jerry’s also made headlines last year when it threw its support behind the Defund the Police movement.

Fox Business’ Houston Keene contributed to this report. 

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