|The Jewish antidote for hatred is a holiday of Love, Tu b’Av|
Ben and Jerry’s is playing politics with ice-cream. This week they announced a boycott on selling ice-cream in the West Bank. Ben and Jerry’s have caved into pressure from BDS*. I believe this is the first time that a major US brand has come out publicly in support of BDS. This cannot be ignored. If the goal of Ben and Jerry’s goal is to really promote peace they could open a factory in the West Bank. This could create jobs, provide health care and education for the families of their workers. They could use their billions to bring Palestinians and Israelis into genuine dialogue.
Israel is a good county in a bad neighborhood. Israel is not perfect, and like in any county there is still work to be done to improve society. But let’s remember, Israel is a democracy and the only one in the Middle East.
Other countries commit atrocities much worse than Israel, but Ben and Jerrys’ is only taking a stand against Israel. For example, they do business in Turkey, where more than 20,000 Kurdish civilians have been killed this year. When Israel is accused of being uniquely evil amongst the family of nations, this is anti-Semitism.
Peace comes from bringing people together. If Ben and Jerry’s really wanted to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace they could support any one of the of the numerous organizations that promote mutual understanding and respect between Israelis and Palestinians. Rabbis for Human Rights, Seeds of Peace, Banjos for Peace, the YMCA Peace Choirs, Givat Haviva, and the Arava Institute, are just a few of the important organizations that bring Palestinians and Israelis together and to achieve greater mutual respect and understanding. These programs make an actual difference in the lives of people. Boycotts distance people. Peace is made by creating relationships and even friendships.
Come tonight to services to learn about the Jewish “Love Holiday,” Tu b’Av. The antidote to hatred is to reach out to others with an open hand and an open heart.
Rabbi David Wilfond
* BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) is a global movement to delegitimize Israel by pressuring governments, companies and universities to not invest in or do business with Israel.