Israeli Students Call Ben & Jerry’s Out for Occupying Tribal Lands In Vermont

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NEW YORK (VINnews/SandyEller) – Turning the tables on ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, a group of Israeli students accused the company of hypocrisy for its occupation of Vermont land that once belonged to a native American tribe.

The New York Post (bit.ly/3paajn6) reported that 1,000 students and academics signed on the Students for Justice in America letter which took aim squarely at Ben & Jerry’s July 2021 decision to discontinue sales in what it called “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Referencing Ben & Jerry’s insistence that selling its products in the West Bank was inconsistent with company values, the letter called on the left-leaning ice cream maker to leave its Waterbury, Vermont facility, saying that it was located on land that had been taken from its tribal owners.

“We have concluded that your company’s occupation of the Abenaki lands is illegal and we believe it is wholly inconsistent with the stated values that Ben & Jerry’s purports to maintain,” read the letter, which was sent to the company’s chairperson.

The letter also noted that Ben & Jerry’s has never offered to compensate the Abenaki tribe, which it described as an “indigenous nation,” for use of its land.

“Justice, morality and boycotts are not just slogans and antisemitic weapons for your food company to point at the Jewish community in Israel,” read the letter. “Justice and morality must begin at home.”

The letter was supported by Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, which has been vocal in its opposition to combating the BDS movement. Group president Nitsana Darshan Leitner slammed the ice cream company for its double standards, saying, “Ben & Jerry’s speak with a forked tongue.”

According to Vermont History Explorer (bit.ly/3Q8UngR), 10,000 Abenakis lived in what is now known as Vermont when Europeans first arrived there in the early 1600s, with the newcomers using their weaponry to seize tribal lands. WCAX (bit.ly/3SFRB4o) reported that modern day members of the area’s four Akenabi tribes have spent decades fighting for state recognition and subsistence rights.

State Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter hailed Governor Phil Scott’s 2020 decision to give Abenaki Vermonters the right to hunt and fish without having to pay for state licenses saying, “This is a right, a historical right of the Abenaki that’s been denied for a long time.”


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