The Kof-K training organization, which operates in the United States, may not renew the provision of training for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, in the media, and the company will realize its intention to stop marketing its products in Israeli settlements. “We told Ben & Jerry’s that we did not know if we could renew our contract,” Rabbi Daniel Center, vice president of operations for the American kashrut organization, told the Jerusalem Post.
Now, there is a lot of fog surrounding the question of whether the American ice cream company will receive a kosher stamp after the expiration of the existing contract with Kof-K, which is expected to expire in 2022. It should be noted that Kof-K can violate the contract only in the media. The Jews when it comes to kosher food.
However, Kof-K is considering refusing to renew the contract due to the decision made by the independent board of directors of Ben & Jerry’s last July not to renew its business with the Israeli ice cream franchisee after the contract expires in December 2022. The board of Ben & Jerry’s Rees said she took this step due to the sale of its products by the franchisee in Israel to Jewish stores in East Jerusalem and in the settlements of Judea and Samaria.
The Israeli Ben & Jerrys plant is located in the south of the country and does not operate branches in the territories or in East Jerusalem. “Our concern is the action of Ben & Jerry’s to stop distributing the products in Judea and Samaria,” said Rabbi Center. “We hope Ben & Jerry’s will back down from its decision and have some sort of solution.”
The Kof-K organization spoke to Ben & Jerry’s management about its concerns, Center said. According to him, a kashrut organization will have to take a number of steps before any final action, including a decision by its rabbinical committee. The organization’s management will also consult with other regulatory companies that approve kosher food.
In the shadow of Kof-K’s discussions on how to proceed, the organization’s senior rabbinate coordinator was in Israel last week as part of a trip organized by Yesha Council Director General Yigal Dilmoni. A senior member of the organization met with Minister of Religions Matan Kahana and talked to him about “Ben & Jerry’s.” The two traveled to Judea and Samaria, where they spoke with Avi Zimmerman, president of the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce. Later, they also visited the Barkan Industrial Park, where Israelis and Palestinians work.
Dilmoni said he had been in contact with the Kof-K to “exhaust all possibilities to stop Ben & Jerry’s disgraceful decision to boycott Jews in Judea and Samaria.” Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever, tried to downplay the decision not to market more ice cream to its settlement in Judea and Samaria, which many interpreted as a boycott of Israel.
Rabbi Yuval Sherlow, who heads the Center for Ethics at the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, said he opposes the Ben & Jerrys boycott, and understands the feelings swirling around him. At the same time he said that he also opposes the removal of a kosher certificate for a reason unrelated to kosher laws. He said it would be a “slippery slope” that opened the door to many questions, including whether a kosher certificate should be revoked from a hall hosting an event to mark the new civil year, or whether a meat factory that abuses animals would be considered kosher, or a supermarket or restaurant that abuses their workers. “Once you start dropping the kashrut for various reasons, you do not know where to stop,” Rabbi Sherlow said. “In principle, there is nothing that has no borders. Perhaps the boycott of Israel is crossing this border,” he added.