Israeli President Isaac Herzog issued a harsh condemnation against boycotts of Israel after the ice cream makers Ben & Jerry’s announced its plans to end sales in what it termed the “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” calling them “a new kind of terrorism.”
“The boycott against Israel is a new type of terrorism — economic terrorism. Terrorism that seeks to harm Israeli citizens and the Israeli economy. We must oppose this boycott and terrorism of any kind,” the Times of Israel reported Herzog as saying.
“The BDS campaign does not pursue peace and seeks to undermine the very existence of the State of Israel. It is aiming its arrows at the Israeli economy,” he went on.
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However, former deputy IDF chief of staff Yair Golan, from the left-wing Meretz party, disagreed, saying: “As someone who knows terrorism and has been fighting terrorism all his life, what is happening in the international arena is not terrorism.”
“We must fight against the boycott with one hand, and for a two-state solution with the other,” he added. “But using concepts drawn from the world of violence is not the way.”
“An ice cream boycott is not terrorism,” Golan said.
Herzog declared that Israel would not stop fighting boycotts as well as other means of economic warfare against it.
His remarks echoed those of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett a day earlier. Bennett told Alan Jope, the CEO of Unilever – Ben & Jerrys parent company – that the boycott is an “anti-Israel” move that would be fought “vigorously.”
Jope on Thursday distanced itself from Ben & Jerry’s decision, saying the conglomerate remains “fully committed” to doing business in Israel.
But he stopped short of saying his company would force Ben & Jerry’s to walk back its decision.
“Obviously it’s a complex and sensitive matter that elicits very strong feelings,” he said. “If there is one message I want to underscore in this call, it’s that Unilever remains fully committed to our business in Israel.”
The Associated Press cited him as saying that includes a new 35 million euro ($41 million) razor factory and corporate offices and facilities that employ some 2,000 people.
“It’s been a longstanding issue for Ben & Jerry’s,” he said. “We were aware of this decision by the brand and its independent board, but it’s certainly not our intention that every quarter will have one quite as fiery as this one.”