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Israeli students accuse Ben &Jerry’s of occupying tribal land


Israeli students claim that ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s is “illegally” occupying land in Vermont that after belonged to a Abenaki native American tribe and may practice what it preaches and immediately evacuate the properties.

A cheeky letter sent to B&J — signed by greater than 1,000 Israeli students and academics affiliated with Students for Justice in America — accuses B&J of of hypocrisy.

“We now have concluded that your organization’s occupation of the Abenaki lands is unlawful and we consider it’s wholly inconsistent with the stated values that Ben & Jerry’s purports to keep up. Satirically, in July of the last yr you announced that you simply would discontinue the sale of your products in Israel since you object to the Jewish State allegedly occupying Palestinian territories,” the letter to B&J’s chairperson, Anuradha Mittal said.

The letter, provided to The Post, notes that B&J filed a lawsuit against its parent company, Unilever, in an effort to dam its sale of the Vermont-based brand’s Israel business to a neighborhood franchisee so ice cream could proceed to be sold within the West Bank.

Greater than 1,000 Israeli students have signed a letter to Ben & Jerry’s accusing it of hypocrisy for having a Vermont location on land stolen from a Native American tribe. AFP via Getty Images

The brand new student initiative and letter is supported by Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, a Tel-Aviv based human rights organization dedicated to safeguarding the lives of the Jewish community and and combatting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against the Jewish State.

“Ben & Jerry’s blatant hypocrisy has now been revealed by these Israeli students,” said Shurat HaDin president, Nitsana Darshan Leitner.

“Ben and Jerry’s speak with a forked tongue.”

The left-leaning ice cream brand had previously announced it could end sales of its products in Jewish settlements within the occupied West Bank, which critics said amounted to an economic boycott of Israel.

The fallout was severe, with states including Latest York withdrawing tens of millions of dollars in pension investments from B&J’s parent company, Unilever. Latest York is prohibited by law from doing business with entities that take part in the BDS movement against Israel.

A man and a young boy stand across the street from a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop.The left-leaning ice cream brand had previously announced it could end sales of its products in Jewish settlements within the occupied West Bank.AFP via Getty Images

“Ben and Jerry’s has never even offered to offer compensation to this indigenous nation in Vermont,” the letter from the scholars’ group, which is a counterpoint to Students for Justice in Palestine, which promotes the BDS movement against Israel, said.

“Justice, morality and boycotts are usually not just slogans and antisemitic weapons in your food company to point on the Jewish community in Israel. Justice and morality must begin at home.”

A man looks back at a closed Ben & Jerry's shop in Israel.The scholars said the ice cream maker should practice what it preaches and immediately evacuate the Vermont land belonging to the Abenaki people.AFP via Getty Images

The scholars demanded that B&J immediately evacuate the properties “it occupies” in South Burlington, Waterbury and Saint Albans and “return them to the Abenaki people”, adding, “your organization has no right to those stolen territories.”

The State of Vermont recognized the Abenaki Nation in 2012.

“Vermont’s Native history began 12,900 years ago when people called the Paleo-Indians first moved into the land we now call Vermont. Since these earliest occupations nearly 13,000 years ago, Native communities have continually lived in Vermont. Native knowledge, experience, and traditions have deeply influenced many points of Vermont’s wealthy history,” the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs says on its website.

Ben & Jerry’s had no immediate comment.

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