Kaufer calls Ben & Jerry’s action in Israel anti-Semitic, calls Pa’s action.
KINGSTON – Ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s has said it has stopped selling ice cream in the occupied West Bank and challenged East Jerusalem because such sales were “incompatible with our values.”
State Representative Aaron Kaufer sees the move as an example of anti-Semitism and is among those who have called on Pennsylvania officials to enforce a government procurement law prohibiting the state from contracting with companies boycotting Israel.
“The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement – or BDS – is little more than a poorly hidden anti-Semitic economic attack,” Kaufer said. âThis is not about the rights of the Palestinians, or about a Palestinian state, but as BDS supporters chant ‘river to sea’, it is about eliminating the Jewish people from Israel.
Kaufer, R-Kingston, spoke with the Israeli Consulate on Monday evening and on Tuesday he called on Governor Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and State Treasurer Stacy Garrity to enforce Law 163 of 2016, which prohibits state agencies, or affiliates, from contracting with companies engaged in a boycott of Israel.
The bill was passed by House 181-9 and Senate 47-1.
Kaufer said Ben & Jerry’s had announced plans to boycott sales in parts of Israel, and refrain from renewing its licensing agreement, triggers Bill 163, which he said specifies that it is ” in the interest of the United States and the Commonwealth of supporting Israel and other countries by encouraging trade and commerce and discouraging policies which ignore this interest.
Law 163 of 2016 states that a Commonwealth-contracted business is not allowed to be involved in a boycott, or to refuse “to deal with any person or business where the action is based on race, color. , religion, gender or national affiliation of the person or entity.
Kaufer has sent a letter to Wolf, Shapiro, and Garrity to confirm that they will follow Pennsylvania law and terminate any sale or contract with any state office, agency, or affiliate, including vendors, who sell or offer Ben & Jerry’s products.
âRepublicans and Democrats in the General Assembly are united in taking a strong stand in the fight against prejudice,â Kaufer said. âI hope and expect Governor Wolf, Attorney General Shapiro and Treasurer Garrity to uphold our historic opposition to discrimination and stand with one of America’s most powerful allies. It is the law and we expect it to be followed.
Kaufer got a response from Shapiro. The email was sent to Kaufer by Adrienne Muller, Government Affairs, Office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro. It said:
âThe Attorney General has received your letter and wants to make sure you receive a response in a timely manner. Our statement is below:
âBDS is rooted in anti-Semitism. The stated goal of this amorphous movement is the withdrawal of Jewish citizens from the region and I strongly oppose their efforts. Governor Wolf rightly signed a bill 5 years ago that was passed with broad bipartisan support to prevent the BDS stain from taking hold in Pennsylvania. I expect the relevant Commonwealth agencies to enforce the law.
Kaufer received this statement from Secretary Garrity:
âI applaud Rep. Kaufer for bringing this issue to public attention. As the General Assembly declared in Law 163 of 2016, Israel is America’s democratic and reliable ally – and it is in the interests of the United States and Pennsylvania to stand by its side. ‘Israel by promoting trade and commerce, and discouraging policies that ignore this interest.
“The Treasury will continue to thoroughly review each disbursement to ensure that Law 163 is being complied with.”
Garrity’s press secretary Samantha Galvez told Kaufer that Article 1502 of the Tax Code establishes the pre-audit authority of the Treasury.
âThe Treasury is necessary to ensure that all Commonwealth monetary disbursements are authorized, accurate and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and management policies,â said Galvez. âObviously, this includes Law 163 of 2016, which prohibits state agencies, or their subsidiaries, from contracting with companies engaged in a boycott of Israel. “
In his letter to Governor Wolf, Attorney General Shapiro, and Treasurer Garrity, Kaufer wrote:
âAs you know, the Jewish people faced oppression and discrimination wherever they lived, due to expulsions, pogroms, forced conversions and genocide. Less than 80 years ago, the last attempt at total destruction of the Jews – the Holocaust – was defeated. Subsequently, the world voted and recognized the State of Israel, where Jews have inhabited the country for a millennium.
âIsrael’s Declaration of Independence declares that Israel will guarantee ‘complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants without distinction of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; he will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and he will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. ‘
âThese are the same values ââthat we stand for in Pennsylvania, in fact you could say that we were founded on these same principles. As Israel being the only nation in the Middle East to guarantee these rights, it is in our interest to ensure that Israel is treated fairly.
“I call on all three of you to ensure that the Pennsylvania State government, agencies and affiliates, including the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the State System of Higher Education, universities, parks, prisons, and the like. to the State, terminate any affiliation or service of Ben & Jerry’s ice. cream.
âAlthough Ben & Jerry’s surrendered to an ongoing and aggressive campaign by extreme anti-Jewish and anti-Israel groups, that doesn’t mean we should excuse him. We need to work together, uphold the law, and stand with Israel.
According to the Associated Press, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said he spoke with Alan Jope, managing director of Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, and expressed concern that he called it “a clearly anti-Israel measure”. He said the move would have “serious consequences, legal and otherwise,” and Israel “will act aggressively against all boycott actions directed against its citizens.”
In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to comment directly on the company’s decision. But he said the United States rejects the boycott movement against Israel, saying it is “unjustly singling out” the country.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations and the United States, Gilad Erdan, sent letters to 35 governors whose states have laws prohibiting boycotting Israel asking them to consider denouncing Ben’s decision. Jerry “and take any other relevant action, including with respect to your state laws and the commercial relationship between Ben & Jerry’s and your state.
Erdan said Israel viewed the company’s decision as “the de facto adoption of anti-Semitic practices and the advancement of the delegitimization of the Jewish state and the dehumanization of the Jewish people.”
See Thursday’s edition for more on this story.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.