Activists Mobilized for Free Cone Day
Leafleting at Ben & Jerry’s
Scoop Shops in 12 States on April 8th 2014
The message was "Your ice cream is free today – Palestine is not!"
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.
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
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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 https://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.
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 [https://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 [https://www.vtjp.org/icecream/BJpetition.php].
For the Campaign Website, Click here
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email comments to Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel BDS Committee