OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Dear Ben and Jerry: Ignorance is not a Jewish value

Why did Ben and Jerry not show a desire to go deeper and better understand a complicated conflict? Maybe because the messy truth didn’t fit their easy narrative.

A Ben & Jerry's store. Credit: Java Designs/Shutterstock.
A Ben & Jerry's store. Credit: Java Designs/Shutterstock.
DAVID SUISSA Editor-in-Chief Tribe Media/Jewish Journal (Israeli American Council)
David Suissa
David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp and Jewish Journal. He can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

In a joint op-ed last week in The New York Times, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, gave their “unequivocal support” to their company’s recent announcement that it was ending its business in “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

“While we no longer have any operational control of the company we founded in 1978,” they wrote, “we’re proud of its action and believe it is on the right side of history. In our view, ending the sales of ice cream in the occupied territories is one of the most important decisions the company has made in its 43-year history.”

Why do they feel so strongly about this move, given that they call themselves “supporters of the State of Israel?” Because it “aligns its business and operations with its progressive values” and advances “the concepts of justice and human rights, core tenets of Judaism.”

Well, one core tenet of Judaism it does not advance is the seeking of knowledge.

Had Ben and Jerry gone beyond the one-sided clichés of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they would have learned, for example, that the biggest enemy of the Palestinian people is their own corrupt leadership. For decades, these despots have marinated their society in Jew-hatred, while funding and glorifying terrorism and using international aid to fatten their bank accounts. It’s not a coincidence that these failed leaders have rejected three Israeli peace offers that would have ended the occupation.

It makes one wonder: What incentive do Palestinian leaders have to end the occupation when they see what a useful weapon it has become? As long as they keep saying no, the international money keeps rolling in and they get to enjoy op-eds of Jews bashing the Jewish state based on “Jewish values.” And they’ve learned through the years that as long as they refuse to end the conflict, the global anti-Israel movement will march on.

Why did Ben and Jerry not show a desire to go deeper and better understand a complicated conflict? Maybe because the messy truth didn’t fit their easy narrative.

Regardless of how one feels about Israeli policies, the messy truth is that chronic Palestinian rejectionism, more than any other factor, has defined the conflict. Had Ben and Jerry done just a little homework, they would have learned that the intent to eliminate the Jewish state predates any Jewish settlements. It’s a fact that when the PLO was founded in 1964 as a militant anti-Israel movement, there was not one Jewish settlement.

Israel has made its share of mistakes, but in the old days, before peace became a pipe dream, it was the Jewish state that stuck its neck out and made significant compromises to try to resolve the conflict. Palestinian leaders, who may have panicked when Israel called their bluff, couldn’t even bring themselves to make a counter offer.

Dear Ben and Jerry: If you’re going to cover yourself in Jewish values, go all the way. Delving into complexity in the search for truth is one of the great Jewish values. By neglecting that complexity and taking the easy way out, you have reinforced the narrative of anti-Semites who malign Israel as a peace-hating, oppressive country, and elevate corrupt, terror-promoting Palestinian leaders as helpless victims.

That’s not Jewish or peace-loving, it’s just ignorant.

David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp, and “Jewish Journal.” He can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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