Ice Cream, Honesty, and Occupation


Everyone likes ice cream. And everyone believes that they support peace. It’s just a question of what that peace looks like. And in the case of the American Jewish community, and American political leaders, the vast majority of people will tell you that the peace that they support is a two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine living side-by-side as independent nations. Sounds good, right?

But alas, while many of our national organizations and political leaders espouse their belief in peace and two states, when it moves from the realm of the theoretical into the practical, when someone has the nerve to point out that in the two-state solution, one of those states is Palestine, then things get “complicated.” And, of course, “complicated” is a polite code-word for “I have no good answer for why I suspend my erstwhile values and support endless illegal occupation, but I would still like to call myself progressive.”

A two-state solution isn’t the only possible option for Israeli-Palestinian peace, but it is the one with the broadest support. But let’s be clear. If you (honestly) support two states, that means supporting the creation of a viable, independent Palestine. And where do you think that is going to be? Hint, it isn’t Uganda. In order for that thing that you theoretically support (a 2SS) to happen, the Occupation has to end. In order for that to happen, we must be clear that the Occupied Territories are not Israel.

You know who did just that? Ben & Jerry’s. That’s right, an ice cream company has, at considerable cost, used its  voice and its business to remind people that the Occupied Territories are not Israel. They were clear and honest about what they believe. They support Israel, and they oppose the Occupation.

We at APN applauded their decision. After all, we support peace and a two-state solution, so that was easy, right? Turns out that, for many in the American Jewish community’s Aleph-Bet soup, not so much. The ADL, AIPAC, the CoP and so many others instead attacked Ben & Jerry’s. They accused them of boycotting Israel. Just to be 100% clear, Ben and Jerry’s was not and is not “boycotting Israel”. The only way that accusation makes any sense is if you believe that the Occupied Territories are Israel*.

And, of course, there were accusations of “economic warfare.” Oddly, these same organizations are often the ones calling for more sanctions on Iran, on the Palestinians and others, not to mention that historically they called for boycotts (and divestments and sanctions) on Sudan, South Africa, and the Soviet Union.

Yet today, organizations and political leaders that in one breath claim to support a two-state solution, use the next to attack not only Ben & Jerry’s but also the very right to boycott. By supporting so-called “anti-BDS laws,” these organizations and others have shown that when it is time for action and not empty rhetoric, they prioritize enabling endless occupation over protecting the First Amendment rights of Americans. They have shown that their support for “peace” is overridden by their demand that no one, not even an ice cream company, dare to take even the smallest action to call out the Occupation for what it is, a violation of international law and a moral failure.

The olive branch is an ancient symbol for the idea of peace. But today, too many organizations use it instead as a fig leaf to cover their support for a right-wing agenda that will declare any criticism of Israeli policy or action as a form of “fill in the blank” warfare.

When you see organizations that tell you over and over again that they support a two-state solution making it their top priority to attack those who actually do something to support that very idea, it is clear that the Emperor has no clothes. But at least he has ice cream.


*Note: they are not.