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New hires at Ben & Jerry’s required to undergo Israeli-Palestinian conflict training

One lecture is given by a Human Rights Watch pro-Palestinian activist who was expelled from Israel for his support of BDS

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s is now requiring new employees to watch four lectures about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as part of their onboarding process.

One of the lectures is delivered by Omar Shakir – a Human Rights Watch pro-Palestinian activist who has been expelled from Israel for his support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the Jewish Insider revealed.

The report said that the videos are part of training sessions, dubbed by the company “Scooper Series: Social Mission.” They also address racism in the United States. 

In one of the videos, which was reviewed by the Jewish media outlet, Shakir provided a one-sided explanation for last May’s Gaza-Israel war. 

“If you look at the recent escalation that took place in May of 2021, it started over discriminatory efforts to force Palestinians out of their homes in occupied East Jerusalem as part of this larger policy,” he said. 

Further elaborating on the Israeli policy on the Gaza Strip, he added that although the Israeli government withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the country continues to “exercise control over Gaza.”

“Our study of Israeli policy over the last 16 years shows that it sought [and] pursued a written policy of separation between Gaza and the West Bank,” Shakir said. “Its enforcement of this policy largely aims to prevent Gaza residents from moving to the West Bank as part of a policy to remove the large Palestinian population in Gaza – 2 million people living in a 25-by-seven-mile territory – off Israel’s demographic balance sheet.”

The report said that both Shakir and the ice cream company declined a request for comment. 

It added that the Ben & Jerry’s board consulted with Shakir last year, ahead of its controversial decision not to sell their products in what they refer to as “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” 

The boycott has caused Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, significant losses. 

Seven U.S. states, including New Jersey, Illinois, New York and Florida, divested hundreds of millions of dollars in their pension funds from Unilever because the move violated anti-boycott laws. The company’s stock has dropped close to 20%, partially as a result of the announcement. 

Last week, Reuters reported that Unilever was sued by a U.S. shareholder who said the company mishandled the decision by Ben & Jerry's. According to the proposed class action in Manhattan federal court, Unilever improperly concealed the decision before it was announced, recognizing the potential consequences of the move, yet stood behind it once the news became public.

Israeli opposition lawmaker Simcha Rothman was outraged by the recent report and lashed out at his own government for not taking strong enough action, according to the Times of Israel.

“To this day, the Israeli government hasn’t taken any steps against Unilever and its participation in tenders hasn’t been prevented,” Rothman said in a statement.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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