OpinionBoycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

The disgrace of Ben & Jerry’s

According to the famous ice-cream company, Jews do not belong in Judea and Samaria, the Jewish heartland.

The Jewish town of Karnei Shomron in Samaria, June 4, 2020. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.
The Jewish town of Karnei Shomron in Samaria, June 4, 2020. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.
Yonina Pritzker. Credit: Courtesy.
Yonina Pritzker
Yonina Pritzker served as the spiritual leader of Boston-area congregations for over two decades.

An ice-cream company, whose Jewish co-founder’s own name originated more than 3,000 years ago in the very place where the company is now denying any Jewish roots, puts out a defamatory statement criminalizing the Jewish presence there, in the very birthplace of the Jewish people.

The pronouncement put out by Ben & Jerry’s regarding plans to alter its long-standing business relationship with the Jewish state was replete with the language used by those who have tried relentlessly to deny and criminalize the Jewish presence in the land of Israel.

Subsequently, a cohort of voices—some through a lack of knowledge, others through a lack of goodwill—used this as a prime opportunity to haul out the megaphones and cement in the public mind a deluge of misinformation about Israel.

Mission accomplished.

But the repetition of fabricated talking points does not make them true, despite the relentless efforts of those who would deny to the Jewish people the very rights that these same voices pay lip service to supporting.

And those who know history will never need to rely on talking points.

There has been a continuous Jewish presence in the land of Israel from ancient times until today, and this Jewish presence began in Judea and Samaria. This is the birthplace of the Jewish nation, and also the very place where these voices of condemnation want to eradicate Jewish life and criminalize any Jewish presence.

The roots of the Jewish people are found throughout Judea and Samaria, with each city and holy site reflecting the history of the people of Israel in the land of Israel.

Now, according to Ben & Jerry’s, Jews do not belong in this Jewish heartland.

Take Bethlehem, for example. Jews have prayed in Bethlehem at the holy site of Kever Rachel, Rachel’s Tomb, through the centuries. In fact, so firmly identified with the Jewish people is Rachel’s Tomb that in 1830, a royal decree was issued recognizing Jewish rights at this Jewish holy site. The governor of Damascus instructed the Mufti of Jerusalem that “the tomb of esteemed Rachel … they [the Jews] are accustomed to visit it from ancient days; and no one is permitted to prevent them or oppose them [doing] this.”

Also, according to Ben & Jerry’s, Jews do not belong in the eastern portions of Jerusalem. As such, the company is joining with those who deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and believe that Jews should be barred from their holiest places, prevented from ascending to the Temple Mount, the very place where every Jew faces in prayer.

Yet in 1925, the Muslim Waqf Temple Mount Guide (page 4) included the following description of Judaism’s holiest site: “Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar unto the L-rd[.]’”

So, in 1925, the Muslim Waqf clearly affirmed the Jewish connection to the ancient Temple and to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Yet the denial of this connection is regularly bandied about as a talking point today with the clear intention of denying Jewish rights.

The ongoing rejection of the Jewish people’s right to sovereignty and self-determination in their ancestral homeland has resulted in a parade of tactics intended to criminalize the Jewish state and deny the Jewish connection to the land, despite 4,000 years of history. This is through the rewriting of history, as those who engage in Temple denial try to do, or through changing the names of places in order to obscure the Jewish history that took place there, as when Jordan tried to rename Samaria and Judea with the generic name “the West Bank.” It is far more difficult to claim that Jews do not belong in Judea.

Nonetheless, the rights of the Jewish people to the land of Israel were unequivocally affirmed and codified in international law at the San Remo Conference of 1920, a meeting of the Principal Allied Powers of WWI to determine the future of the former territories of the Ottoman Empire. As a result of this conference, not only Israel but Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan were all established out of what had been sections of the Ottoman Empire.

Here, a binding international agreement was enacted “to reconstitute the ancient Jewish state within its historic borders.”

For the Jewish homeland, they allocated the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the land that currently comprises Jordan, the Golan Heights and Gaza. They specified these particular regions because this is where Jews had lived since ancient times. This was recognized as the native land of the Jewish people.

The San Remo Resolution was signed into international law and then ratified by a unanimous vote of the League of Nations, affirming the Jewish right to settle anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, which is where Samaria and Judea are found. This right is codified in international law to this day.

In addition, it became part of U.S. law when President Warren Harding signed a Joint Resolution of the 67th Congress of the United States and when the U.S. signed the Anglo-American Convention of 1924.

In 1945, the United Nations assumed the obligations of the League of Nations, according to Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, making the establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel one of the foundational obligations of the U.N.

In 1947, the U.N. violated its obligation to protect Jewish rights in the land of Israel by proposing the Partition Plan. In proposing this partition of land that had been designated specifically for the Jewish homeland, the United Nations, in illegal abrogation of Jewish rights, contradicted its own obligation as guarantors of Jewish rights to that land. As Howard Grief points out, the doctrine of estoppel prevents a party from “denying what it previously admitted or recognized in a treaty or other international agreement.”

Furthermore, for any such recommendation of the U.N. General Assembly to become legally binding, the parties involved would need to agree to the terms of the resolution. The Arabs who were involved in this conflict never agreed to the resolution for partition, and indeed, specifically rejected it. Resolution 181 never had legal validity to bind the Jewish people and Israel.

Ironically, this Nov. 29, 1947 vote for partition, which carried no legal weight, has often erroneously been viewed as the legal basis for the modern State of Israel. In fact, this was just another attempt to subdivide the land of Israel to appease those who have repeatedly rejected the right to sovereignty and self-determination for the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland.

“Occupation,” another deceptive talking point being bandied about repeatedly, refers to the holding and control of an area by a foreign force. Given that the land of Israel was never the sovereign country of any nation but the Jewish one, and that Jerusalem has served as the capital of only the Jewish nation, Jews cannot be deemed “occupiers” in their own land—a fact, once again, affirmed by international law.

Despite the Jewish roots that go back four millennia to the very beginning of Jewish history, despite the recognition of the ancient and ongoing Jewish connection to the land of Israel by everyone from the governor of Damascus to the Muslim Waqf to the League of Nations to the United Nations, we continue to hear from those who attempt to rewrite history and thereby deny the Jewish connection to the land of Israel—those who try to rename the Jewish homeland, obscure its history and then accuse Jews of being occupiers there, and those who regularly attempt to write the Jewish people out of Jewish history.

Ben & Jerry’s has now added its voice to that chorus.

Yonina Pritzker served as the spiritual leader of Boston-area congregations for over two decades. With an emphasis on Israel education, she has worked at The David Project developing curricula related to Israel, was a research analyst at CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) and was a co-founder of Rabbis and Ministers for Israel.

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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