WATCH: Ben & Jerry’s Painful Interview on Israel Boycott

Ben & Jerry's
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The eponymous founders of Ben & Jerry’s were left flummoxed when accused of hypocrisy over the company’s recent decision to stop selling its products in Israel, in what has been dubbed a “car-crash” interview with Axios on HBO.

Ben Cohen and ice cream co-founder Jerry Greenfield were asked by the interviewer, Alexi McCammond, why the decision to boycott a state over its policies never stretched to Georgia and Texas, despite their vocal opposition to those states’ abortion and voting rights laws.

“Why do you still sell ice cream in Georgia? Texas?” McCammond asked.

Clearly stumped, Cohen, a Bernie Sanders supporter, shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know,” he said, laughing.

“You ask a really good question and I think I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit.”

In July, Ben & Jerry‘s announced it would no longer sell ice cream in what it called the “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” presumably referring to Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

A month later, Arizona became the first state to divest all public funds — amounting to more than $140 million – from Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever over what it deemed was an “anti-Semitic” move. New Jersey has followed suit, divesting $180 million in Unilever stock.

“Ben & Jerry’s publicly supported Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter. But over the years, the company continues to sell more ice cream and thrive,” Greenfield said.

A view of the entrance of the ice-cream shop inside the Ben & Jerry's factory in Be'er Tuvia in southern Israel, on July 21, 2021. - Ben & Jerry's announced that it will stop selling ice cream in the Israel-occupied Palestinian territories since it was "inconsistent with our values", although it said it planned to keep selling its products in Israel. The West Bank and East Jerusalem have been under Israeli control since 1967. Roughly 475,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, in communities widely regarded as illegal under international law, alongside some 2.8 million Palestinians. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP) (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

A view of the entrance of the ice-cream shop inside the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Be’er Tuvia in southern Israel, on July 21, 2021. Ben & Jerry’s announced that it will stop selling ice cream in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

When asked how Cohen and Sanders — two Jews — felt when accused of antisemitism, Cohen answered, “Totally fine.”

Chuckling, he went on, “It’s absurd. I mean, what, I’m anti-Jewish? I’m a Jew!”

Greenfield was a little more tempered. “I understand people being upset. It’s a very emotional issue for a lot of people and it’s a very painful issue for a lot of people.”

 

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