Ben & Jerry’s decision to end sales of its ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has been welcomed by many, with supporters of the Palestinian cause announcing on social media their decision to increase consumption of the household brand’s product. Israeli officials, however, have blasted the move denouncing it as no less than a “new form of terrorism,” highlighting further what is being mocked as a hysterical reaction by leaders of the occupation state.
Newly sworn in Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, who is supposed to represent Israel’s so called moderate camp, having served as chairman of the Labor Party, joined the chorus of outrage. “The boycott of Israel is a new sort of terrorism, economic terrorism,” Herzog is reported saying by Haaretz at a ceremony commemorating prime ministers and presidents of Israel who have passed away. “Terrorism tries to harm the citizens of Israel and the economy of Israel. We must oppose this boycott and terrorism in any form.”
Herzog added that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel “does not seek peace, and wishes to undermine the very existence of the State of Israel. It takes aim at the Israeli economy.”
Founded in 2005 following the 2004 International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling on the Separation Wall, which was declared illegal by the world body, the Palestinian led BDS movement undertook the campaign to end Israel’s occupation and its apartheid regime. Since its founding, BDS has gone from strength to strength especially as Israel’s status as a state practicing apartheid has become impossible to dispute following the publication of several high-profile reports.
In April, the pre-eminent human rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) joined a host of other prominent groups to declare that Israel is committing the crimes of apartheid and persecution.
Prior to HRW’s report, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem branded Israel an “apartheid” state that “promotes and perpetuates Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.” Echoing the UN’s 2017 report which concluded that Israel was practising apartheid, B’Tselem dismissed the popular misconception that it is a democracy within the Green (1949 Armistice) Line.
In an article last month, two former Israeli ambassadors to South Africa also denounced Israel as an apartheid state by drawing parallels with the system of racial segregation in South Africa which ended in 1994.
The message has also been embraced by American Jews, a quarter of whom believe Israel is an apartheid state, according to a recent report.
Herzog’s declaration of a peaceful protest against Israel’s occupation as a form of terrorism highlighted what’s seen as growing hysteria in the occupation state over BDS. On Monday, a furious Israeli foreign Minister Yair Lapid weighed in on the decision, taking to Twitter to accuse the popular ice cream outlet of “surrendering to anti-semitism”, and said he would be asking 30 US states — which have passed anti-BDS legislation — to act against Ben & Jerry’s. Some of his Twitter followers pointed out how Israel telling the US what to do was not a good look for the occupation state.