Ben & Jerry’s woke co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are taking heat for freezing when asked why the ice cream company they founded stopped selling its products in parts of Israel over political issues, yet continues to do business in US states where they disagree with laws.
In July, the Vermont-based ice cream company announced that it would stop selling ice cream in “the Occupied Palestinian Territory” because “it is inconsistent with” the company’s values.
But when asked whether the company would extend its boycott practice to other jurisdictions, like US states, where there are policies that aren’t in line with the beliefs of the company, Cohen and Greenfield — who no longer control Ben & Jerry’s but remain its public face — didn’t have an answer.
“You guys are big proponents of voting rights. Why do you still sell ice cream in Georgia? Texas — abortion bans. Why are you still selling there?” Axios’ Alexi McCammond asked the two 70-year-old entrepreneurs.
McCammond was referring to a sweeping overhaul of Georgia’s voting restrictions that could make it harder for some residents to cast ballots and sparked backlash among much of the local business community earlier this year.
In regard to Texas, she was referring to a law that took effect earlier this year making nearly all abortions in the state illegal and offering cash rewards to people who bring suit against anyone assisting in any way with an illegal abortion.
Cohen appeared taken aback before shrugging and letting out, “I don’t know,” with a chuckle.
“It’s an interesting question. I don’t know what that would accomplish. We’re working on those issues, of voting rights. … I think you ask a really good question. And I think I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit.”
McCammond continued to press the two men over the matter of Texas and its recently enacted abortion law.
“By that reasoning, we should not sell any ice cream anywhere. I’ve got issues with what’s being done in almost every state and country,” Cohen said.
Greenfield chimed in, adding, “One thing that’s different is that what Israel is doing is considered illegal by international law. And so I think that’s a consideration.”
In July, Cohen and Greenfield defended Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling products in some parts of Israel.
“While we no longer have any operational control of the company we founded in 1978, we’re proud of its action and believe it is on the right side of history,” they wrote in a joint op-ed in the New York Times.
The company’s decision sparked immediate backlash from critics, including Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who called it anti-Israel and threatened Alan Jope, the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s parent company Unilever, with consequences due to the sales ban.
Public officials in the US have also criticized the move, with a number of states, including New York, that have adopted so-called anti-boycott laws threatening to divest their pension funds from Unilever.
Greenfield told Axios, however, that those states’ actions are based on “misinformation” that “Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever are being characterized as boycotting Israel — which is not the case at all. It’s not boycotting Israel in any way,” he said.
Unilever, for its part, has sought to distance itself from the controversy, reiterating that Ben & Jerry’s is controlled by its own independent board and Unilever cannot overrule its decision.
Representatives for Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever did not immediately return The Post’s request for comment.