July 25, 2021
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
ICE CREAM IN ISRAEL: REALLY?
There’s always a brew-ha-ha going on in Israel. But over ice cream? Believe it or not, that’s what popped up this week. Ben & Jerry’s announcement that the company will stop selling its products in Judea and Samaria by the end of 2022 has produced an unprecedented wave of reactions in Israel and in the USA. Reports even indicate that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has called the CEO of Unilever (the parent company of B&J) to protest the boycott. With all due respect to PM Bennett, we are only talking here about ice cream. One must hope that PM Bennett has more important priorities than to complain to an executive about milk and sugar.
Let’s take a look at the facts and keep things in proportion: Ben & Jerry’s (USA), having been under pressure from its board of directors, announced that they will not renew their franchise agreement with B&J Israel at the end of its term in 2022. They also further announced that they plan to continue to sell B&J in Israel only (excluding Judea & Samaria), through other channels following the franchise replacement. This strategy has no chance to succeed since B&J will ultimately lose the Israeli market. Under Israeli law, you can’t select where you want to sell, Judea and Samaria being part of Israel. Also, Israelis have a good memory for these types of boycotts. Just consider the ramifications 50 years after the Arab League boycott of the 1960s and ’70s. Take a look at Coca Cola’s market dominance in Israel today compared to Pepsi. Israelis remember very well how Cola stood by little Israel (population of 3 million at the time) despite the pressure from the combined Arab countries (population 200 million). Pepsi is still “punished” by Israelis today for shamefully caving into the Arab League boycott of the ’60s and ’70s. Israel is the only country in the world where Pepsi is the third largest cbrand, after Coke and RC. Right — RC Cola is bigger in Israel than Pepsi. Israelis have a good memory.
For a brand, singling out Israel from among the approximately 100 territorial disputes around the globe, may turn out to be a very dangerous strategy — one that can backfire like a boomerang. German Nazis started their anti-Semitic campaigns before World War II with the moto, “kauft nich bei Juden” (don’t buy from Jews). Today’s B&J strategy seems to be: “verkauft nicht zu Juden” (don’t sell to Jews). The most sensitive answer to B&J by Israel and its friends all over the world should be: “B&J, we don’t need you.” As PM Bennett appropriately said, “There are many ice creams, but there is only one Israel.” So, friends, let’s chill. It’s only ice cream and it’s nothing to get too excited about. The problem is Ben & Jerry are mixing politics and business. Let it melt and let’s move on to the important stuff.
My latest books:
I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II
Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!
by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)
You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.
82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!
You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.
by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)