Opinion: Florida Governor DeSantis Threatens Ben and Jerry’s For Protesting Human Rights Abuses

Republicans love their corporations. They love them as long as they contribute to GOP candidates, move American jobs overseas to avoid taxes, and support evangelical fanatics’ efforts to subvert the LGBTQ community’s and women’s rights.

However, if a corporation speaks out against Republicans’ anti-democracy crusade, or protests Israel’s humanitarian abuses in the West Bank, then Republicans change their tune and seek punitive measures – for not toeing the Republican line.

This week Florida governor and self-professed COVID-19 supporter DeSantis lashed out at Jewish brothers Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben and Jerry’s, through the parent corporation that purchased the ice cream company in 2000.

DeSantis is very angry that a private corporation dares deprive Israel’s West Bank and East Jerusalem of their scrumptious ice cream.

One might be inclined to believe that Israel is incapable of making its own ice cream, but that would be an uninformed belief.  This issue has nothing to do with ice cream and everything to do with DeSantis supporting Israel’s humanitarian abuses and pandering to Florida’s Jewish community.

DeSantis is angry because Ben and Jerry join the civilized world in protesting against and condemning Israel’s inhumane treatment of Palestinians.

Apparently, it wasn’t enough that the West confiscated Palestinian land in 1948 to provide Israel a homeland, or sat idly by while Israel committed atrocities against the Palestinian people who are angry that Israel continues to take their land. Now Republicans in Florida and Texas are punishing a corporation for using its constitutionally protected free speech to protest Israel’s human rights violations against the Palestinian people.

DeSantis directed his state to put Ben and Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, on a sh*tlist until it forces the ice cream makers to bow to Israel’s demand that they start sending that yummy ice cream or face harsh consequences from Republican-controlled American states.

DeSantis is doing Israel’s bidding since the Israeli government condemned the ice cream company’s decision they claimed is “a Palestinian-led boycott campaign against Israel.

The Jewish state urged 36 American states with anti-boycott laws to punish Ben and Jerry’s through its parents company.

Of course DeSantis quickly complied with the directive from Israel instead of telling them to either stop its humanitarian abuses against the Palestinian people or just  start making their own ice cream.

DeSantis made the corporation’s decision about discrimination against the Israeli people instead of a protest against humanitarian abuses. He said:

As a matter of law and principle, the State of Florida will not tolerate discrimination against the State of Israel or the Israeli people. By placing Ben & Jerry’s Fortune 500 parent company Unilever on our List of Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel, Florida is sending a message to corporate America that we will defend our strong relationship with the Jewish State.

Odd that DeSantis makes the whole ice cream deprivation issue about two Jewish men discriminating against a nation of Jewish people. Messrs. Cohen and Greenfield issued their own statement saying what the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinian people is inconsistent with our values.” They said in a written statement:

We are the founders of Ben & Jerry’s. We are also proud Jews. It’s part of who we are and how we’ve identified ourselves for our whole lives. As our company began to expand internationally, Israel was one of our first overseas markets. We were then, and remain today, supporters of the State of Israel. But it’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the U.S. government.

Republicans faithfully support the laissez-fare economic system in which transactions between private groups of people are free from any form of government interventionism such as regulations. However, when it comes to opposing anything Republicans hold near-and-dear to their hearts, interventionism in the form of punitive actions is always the Republicans’ first reaction.

In DeSantis’ case, he likely could not care less whether or not the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem have to start making their own ice cream; he may not even like the delicious frozen treat. He is concerned about  the huge Jewish voting bloc in Florida and making a name for himself as the ultimate Israel supporter.

As Mr. Cohen and Greenfield said, protesting against Israeli abuses in occupied Palestine is not discriminating against the Israeli people or the State of Israel; it is opposing its human rights abuses targeting the Palestinian people. But as a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, DeSantis supports Israeli abuses like he supports American law enforcement’s abuses against peaceful protestors. More than that, DeSantis continues the GOP practice of doing precisely what the government of Israel orders leading one to wonder where his loyalty really lies.



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