Israeli students accuse Ben & Jerry’s of occupying tribal lands in Vermont

Israeli students accuse Ben & Jerry’s of occupying tribal lands in Vermont

Israeli students claim that ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s is “illegally” occupying land in Vermont that once belonged to a tribe of Abenaki Indians and should practice what it preaches and evacuate the properties immediately.

A cheeky letter to B&J – signed by more than 1,000 Israeli students and academics associated with Students for Justice in America – accused B&J of hypocrisy.

“We have concluded that your company’s occupation of the Abenaki Estates is illegal and we believe this is totally inconsistent with the stated values ​​that Ben & Jerry’s seeks to uphold. Ironically, you announced in July last year that you would stop selling your products in Israel because you object to the alleged occupation of Palestinian territories by the Jewish state,” read the letter to B&J Chairwoman Anuradha Mittal.

The letter, which was shown to The Post, notes that B&J has filed a lawsuit against its parent company Unilever to block the sale of the Vermont-based brand’s Israel business to a local franchisee so it can continue selling ice cream on the West Bank.

The entrance to a Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlor in Israel is marked with a gate and a colorful ice cream cone sign.More than 1,000 Israeli students have signed a letter to Ben & Jerry’s accusing it of hypocrisy for stealing a Vermont land site from a Native American tribe. AFP via Getty Images

The new student initiative and letter are supported by Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, a Tel Aviv-based human rights organization dedicated to protecting the lives of the Jewish community and fighting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against the Jewish state.

“Ben & Jerry’s blatant hypocrisy has now been exposed by these Israeli students,” said Shurat HaDin President Nitsana Darshan Leitner.

“Ben and Jerry’s speak with forked tongues.”

The left-leaning ice cream brand had previously announced that it would stop selling its products in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, which critics say amounted to an economic boycott of Israel.

The fallout was severe, with states like New York draining millions of dollars in retirement investments from B&J’s parent company, Unilever. New York is barred by law from doing business with companies participating in the BDS movement against Israel.

A man and a young boy stand across from a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop.The left-leaning ice cream brand previously announced it would stop selling its products in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. AFP via Getty Images

“Ben and Jerry’s has never offered any compensation to this indigenous nation in Vermont,” reads the letter from the student group, which is a counterpart to Students for Justice in Palestine, which promotes the BDS movement against Israel.

“Justice, morality and boycotts are not just slogans and anti-Semitic weapons aimed at the Jewish community in Israel by your food company. Justice and morality must begin at home.”

A man looks back at a closed Ben & Jerry's store in Israel.The students said the ice cream maker should do what he preaches and evacuate Abenaki-owned land in Vermont immediately. AFP via Getty Images

The students called on B&J to immediately vacate the properties “it occupies” in South Burlington, Waterbury and Saint Albans and “return them to the Abenaki people,” adding: “Your company has no right to these stolen lands.” .”

The state of Vermont recognized the Abenaki Nation in 2012.

“Vermont’s Native American history began 12,900 years ago when people called Paleo-Native Americans first migrated to the land we now call Vermont. Native American communities have lived in Vermont since these earliest occupations nearly 13,000 years ago. Native American knowledge, experience, and traditions have greatly influenced many aspects of Vermont’s rich history,” according to the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs on its website.

Ben & Jerry’s had no immediate comment.