Vermonters for a Just Peace
in Palestine/Israel

www.vtjp.org

Stop selling Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream in Illegal Settlements!


Activists Mobilize for Free Cone Day Leafleting at Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops

Your ice cream is free today – Palestine is not!

The second annual Free Cone Day leafleting action at Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops on Tuesday, April 8, organized by Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel (www.vtjp.org), mobilized solidarity activists at 26 locations in 12 states (CA, CO, CT, NY, MA, MN, NC, NH, OR, NH, VT, and WA).  Thousands of leaflets were distributed and, more importantly, many Americans were directly engaged on the subject of Israel’s occupation and Ben & Jerry’s commercial ties to Jewish-only settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

Additionally, 356 emails were sent to the company’s CEO, Jostein Solheim to support the Free Cone Day campaign, and in the two weeks leading up to Free Cone Day, more than 500 additional e-mail messages were directed his way.  Some people also telephoned the corporate headquarters and spoke with a company representative.

In San Jose, California, nearly 1,100 leaflets were handed out by activists, one of whom shared a common observation: “Most of the customers were pleasant, and many were interested to hear the information and take a leaflet.” 

San Diego, California reported leafleting at two scoop shops: “We ran out of flyers at both locations.  Next year we will print a lot more flyers.”

At least 1,000 leaflets were handed to people at four scoop shops in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco.  There, as in San Jose, most encounters were friendly and, according to the organizer, “Many were ignorant of the situation in [Israel-Palestine], so it was a wonderful opportunity for education.”

Members of the New England Palestine Education Network and Veterans for Peace leafleted in Manchester, New Hampshire, and experienced what we have encountered over the last year: many people are surprised to learn that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is being sold in Israeli settlements.   In Boston, Mass. one lone activist reported talking with folks about Ben & Jerry's pulling out of the West Bank for one hour until the security guard chased him away, so he spent another four hours at another nearby location.

In Banford, CT, “We gave out about 200 flyers.  Almost everyone kept them”.

In Denver, Colorado, a student organizer was grateful for the opportunity to talk directly with people in his community about the Ben & Jerry’s campaign and the Israeli occupation generally.  He also appreciated the exposure this action generated for the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at the University of Colorado.  The report from Fort Collins, CO included “I thought the leafleting went well ...  I thought we reached people not normally reached”.

In Minneapolis, MN, members of Middle East Peace Now and Women Against Military Madness, the MN Coalition for Palestinian Rights, MN Break the Bonds and local Veterans for Peace chapters were at a local Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop and handed out about 500 leaflets and talked with lots of people.  “Overall, most people accepted the flyer, several asked questions and a dozen or so thanked us for being there, saying they had no idea.”

Members of Upper Hudson Peace Action's Palestinian Rights Committee leafleted outside a cone shop in Albany, New York, and also held a sign that read: “Ben & Jerry’s: Yes in Albany. No in Illegal Israeli Settlements.”  They spoke with the shop manager, who was polite, said he knew why they were there, and invited them in for a free cone.   

Also in New York State, leaflets were distributed at scoop shops in White Plains, Mt. Kisco, and at on 104h St. and Broadway in Manhattan.

From Chapel Hill, North Carolina:  “We all left by about 7:45 pm after passing out 600 leaflets to a crowd almost always willing to receive them.    A most unique and friendly event.”

In Portland , Oregon, twelve volunteers from the local chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace, Portland Palestine Coalition, Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, and Americans United for Equal Palestinian Rights passed out hundreds of leaflets and only two were dropped on the ground.

People leafleting with Jewish Voice for Peace in Tacoma, Washington, also noted that not only were folks “willing to take the info, but the overwhelming majority left with leaflet still in hand!” The action also provided a great opportunity to reach a lot of young people.

There was leafleting at the two scoop shops in Burlington, Vermont including the one at the University of Vermont, and at the company’s factory in Waterbury, Vermont.  Members of Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel’s BDS committee were able to speak with CEO Jostein Solheim and with Rob Michalak, the company’s Global Director of Social Mission, when he dropped in at the scoop shop in downtown Burlington.

This year’s Free Cone Day action marked a dramatic escalation over last year’s effort, and took place shortly after the one-year anniversary of our campaign calling on Ben & Jerry’s to terminate its franchise’s business with Israeli settlements and to issue a statement in opposition to the occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands.  You can see photos of actions across the country at http://www.vtjp.org/icecream/FCD_Photos/

 

Other Campaign News:

Since last September, 220 organizations from around the world have signed our letter calling on the company to stop doing business with Israeli settlements.

Recently, we sent a letter to Ben & Jerry’s calling on management to investigate charges that its franchise in Israel may be still sending 'party carts' to Israeli settlements - we were led to believe last year that this practice had been stopped - and purchasing equipment from an Israeli company operating illegally in the occupied (Syrian) Golan Heights.  The latter allegation just surfaced and came to our attention thanks to the work of Israeli BDS activists; it was not included in our original report on Ben & Jerry’s franchise in Israel.  The company has yet to respond to these allegations. 

Many thanks to the activists and organizations who took part in our Free Cone Day action, and to the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Jewish Voice for Peace, the BDS National Committee in Palestine and Boycott from Within (in Israel) for their counsel and support.  We urge organizations that have not yet endorsed our letter to Ben & Jerry’s [http://www.vtjp.org/icecream/internatletter.php] to consider doing so, and it’s never too late to send an e-mail to Ben & Jerry’s CEO, Jostein Solheim [http://www.vtjp.org/icecream/BJpetition.php].




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