By Brian Flood
Ben & Jerry’s co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are under fire after they failed to come up with a reason why they refuse to sell their ice cream in parts of Israel over political disagreements but do business in areas of the United States where they disagree with laws and policies.
The progressive ice cream company has been vocal about social justice issues and announced earlier this year they will no longer be selling their desserts in "Occupied Palestinian Territory," the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Cohen and Greenfield, who no longer technically control the company but remain its public faces, appeared on "Axios on HBO" Sunday, where Axios' Alexi McCammond asked why they don’t just remove their ice cream from Israel altogether.
"Well, I disagree with the U.S. policy, we couldn’t stop selling in the U.S.," Cohen said as he shrugged.
"You guys are big proponents of voting rights," McCammond said. "Why do you still sell ice cream in Georgia? Texas, abortion bans. Why are you still selling there?"
Cohen appeared dumbfounded as he shrugged and said, "I don’t know," before chuckling.
"It’s an interesting question. I don’t know what that would accomplish. We’re working on those issues, of voting rights," Cohen said. "I don’t know. I think you ask a really good question. And I think I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit."
McCammond, a left-leaning journalist known for being forced out as Teen Vogue's editor in chief over her old tweets, returned to pressing the men over the Texas abortion law.
"By that reasoning, we should not sell any ice cream anywhere. I’ve got issues with what’s being done in most every state and most every country," Cohen said.
"One thing that's different is that what Israel is doing is considered illegal by international law. And so I think that's a consideration," Greenfield added.
Cohen also insisted pulling Ben & Jerry’s from Israel isn’t about money, but simply that the co-founders "don’t want our ice cream sold in the occupied territories."
"It’s not a financial stance, it’s a policy stance," he said.
The co-founders appeared to see things differently when asked if they’re bothered when critics accuse them of anti-Semitism.
"It’s absurd … what, I’m anti-Jewish? I mean, I’m a Jew," Cohen said while laughing. "All my family is Jewish, my friends are Jewish."
Greenfield admitted he understands where critics are coming from.
"It’s a very emotional issue for a lot of people and I totally understand it, it’s a very painful issue," Greenfield said.
Cohen and Greenfield were quickly roasted on social media for the widely panned interview.
Stand With Israel executive director Michael Dickenson called it a "car-crash interview" and said the non-answer proves "their Israel boycott is wrong-headed, unfair and yes – discriminatory."
Many others took to Twitter with thoughts on the interview.
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