In July 2021, the US ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s – which is today owned by Unilever – announced a decision to cease distribution in Israeli settlements, sparking an international controversy that focused in large part on laws in various US states that seek to target/punish those who refuse to treat Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as part of the sovereign state of Israel.
FMEP’s Lara Friedman has been documenting, analyzing, and reporting on these laws and efforts around them since they first appeared in 2014, publishing comprehensive data tracking:
- Legislation in states and in Congress seeking to quash criticism/protest of Israeli policies and legislate support for Israeli settlements (in effect legislating a policy of recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank, irrespective of a formal Israel act of annexation)
- The explicit conflation in some of these laws between Israel and settlements
- Constitutional challenges to these and related kinds of legislation
- The re-purposing of pro-settlement/Israel-related free speech quashing legislation, to attack other forms of political free speech (e.g., seeking to punish boycotts/”discrimination” against the firearms and ammunition industries and against the oil and gas sector).
Given this context, Lara has been consulted by widely consulted by journalists covering the Ben & Jerry’s saga, and has provided background and analysis both on and off the record. For some of her on-the-record comments, see:
- An Israeli-Palestinian Ice Cream Sandwich (Foreign Policy, August 9, 2021)
- How McDonald’s took the same stance as Ben & Jerry’s but avoided public backlash (Times of Israel, July 28, 2021)
- Talking to Lara Friedman About Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream (WMNF radio interview, July 28, 2021)
- Ben & Jerry’s Tests Anti-BDS Laws – Interview with Lara Friedman (Jewish Currents, July 23, 2021)
- How US laws against Israel boycotts could hit Ben & Jerry’s (JTA, July 21, 2021)
- US states’ fully baked anti-BDS laws could put the freeze on Ben & Jerry’s (Times of Israel, July 21, 2021)
- Israel Goes to War Again, This Time Against Ben & Jerry’s (Foreign Policy, July 20, 2021)
- Israel Wants U.S. to Enforce anti-BDS Laws Against Ben & Jerry’s. Will It Work? (Haaretz, July 20, 2021)