After Israel, Ben & Jerry's attacks US Ukraine policy - analysis

After having slammed Israel it seems that Ben & Jerry’s is stepping into the Ukraine conflict as well.

Ben & Jerry's ice cream (Illustrative) (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Ben & Jerry's ice cream (Illustrative)
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

After boycotting Israel last year, the ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has now attacked US policy on Ukraine.

“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” Ben & Jerry’s said last July. “We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”

Last Friday, February 4, the company said on Twitter: “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war. We call on President Biden to de-escalate tensions and work for peace rather than prepare for war. Sending thousands more US troops to Europe in response to Russia’s threats against Ukraine only fans the flame of war.”

The latest statement condemns the US for having stood up for Ukraine. Ukraine is currently at the center of tensions between the US and Russia. In 2014, a crisis took place in Ukraine that led to Russia backing separatists in the eastern part of the country who took over areas in the Donbas. In addition, Russia annexed Crimea.

 Tanks of the Ukrainian armed forces are parked on the roadside during a withdrawal near the village of Nyzhnje in Luhansk region, Ukraine, October 5, 2015. (credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS) Tanks of the Ukrainian armed forces are parked on the roadside during a withdrawal near the village of Nyzhnje in Luhansk region, Ukraine, October 5, 2015. (credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)

The Biden administration has stood up to what it says is a Russian threat to invade more of Ukraine. Russia has said it is concerned about NATO expansion.

“Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has accused the US of trying to draw his country into a war in Ukraine,” the BBC reported. “He said America’s goal was to use a confrontation as a pretext to impose more sanctions on Russia.”

The US was “committed to preventing a conflict that is in no one’s interest,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted last week.

Meanwhile, US troops have moved to Europe over the past few days to reinforce Washington’s NATO allies. They have reportedly arrived in Germany, US European Command has said. China has backed Russia in its standoff with NATO.

Now it seems an American ice-cream maker is also concerned. After having slammed Israel, it seems Ben & Jerry’s is stepping into the Ukraine conflict as well.

“Pressure is growing on British multinational consumer-goods company Unilever, the owner of Ben & Jerry’s, over the refusal of the ice-cream company to allow its Israeli franchisee to sell products in Judea and Samaria,” Globes recently reported. “Unilever’s share price has fallen about 12% since the dispute erupted in July, a much bigger fall than the share price of other major consumer-goods companies.”

Now the same company is raising eyebrows by issuing statements on Ukraine.

The Ben & Jerry’s Twitter post has been greeted with what is called a “ratio” when a tweet is often quote-tweeted and slammed in criticism. At last count on Sunday, it had 1,600 quote tweets but only 246 re-tweets, indicating it has been “ratioed,” which generally means people disagree with it.

The quotes include claims that the tweet is ignorant or, for instance, “Tell me you don’t understand war without telling me you don’t understand war.” Some users mocked the ice-cream group as clowns using a popular graphic. Others wondered, “Why are we getting foreign policy advice from ice cream?”

It appears that Ben & Jerry’s, after having attacked Israel, is now wading into a critique of defending Ukraine. This could begin a pattern of US ice-cream manufacturers critiquing US foreign policy, or it could represent the increasing virtue-signaling whereby one company takes on tough foreign-policy choices and alienates the base of eaters of ice cream.

It is unclear if the decision by Ben & Jerry’s to target Israel and now Ukraine is part of a pattern of slamming democracies that are US partners and allies. It remains to be seen if Ben & Jerry’s will tweet any condemnation of any authoritarian regimes of human-rights violations by dictatorships or only go after US policy regarding Israel and Ukraine.