Other Group

Vermonters for Justice in Palestine (VTJP)

Website:

vtjp.org/

Location:

Burlington, VT

Part of:

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign

Vermonters for Justice in Palestine (often initialized as VTJP) is a Vermont-based group aligned with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign notable for a nearly decade long campaign to pressure left-of-center ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s to cease selling their products in some parts of Israel.

Background

The first meeting of individuals that would later form Vermonters for Justice in Palestine was held in April 2001 at Trinity College hosted by Miriam Ward. According the group’s website, the group formed at the instigation of activist Peter Lackowski in response to a panel discussion in February 2001 about Israel and Palestine held at Chittenden County’s CCTV Town Meeting Television studio moderated by Jane Knoedell. [1]

Though Trinity College originally hosted meetings of the group, the meetings were eventually moved to the premises of Vermonters for Justice in Palestine’s affiliate group, the Peace and Justice Center, initially on Church Street, and later Lake Street in Burlington, Vermont. [2] Additionally, since 2018, in order to accommodate group members in central Vermont, meetings have also been held in Montpelier. [3]

Principally, the organization supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign, an international campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel as the expression of the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination by isolating the country economically through consumer boycotts, business and government withdrawal of investment, and legal sanctions, which critics allege often crosses the line from opposition to Israeli policy into open anti-Semitism. [4] [5]

Ben and Jerry’s

In 2013, Vermonters for Justice in Palestine began a campaign calling on the Vermont-based ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s, which is notable for its association with left-of-center political causes, to cease sales and catering of its products in its Israeli franchises located in certain areas of Israel, particularly in locations claimed to be “occupied Palestine.” [6] In July 2021, Ben and Jerry’s announced that it would cease the sale of its products in the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem. [7]  However, Ben and Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, soon after this decision announced that it would sell its interest in the company to its Israeli licensee, which would make Ben and Jerry’s products available in those territories with Hebrew and Arabic labels. [8]

Following Unilever’s decision, Ben and Jerry’s responded by announcing its intention to go to court to sue its parent company for breach of an independence clause in their contract. [9] According to Alan Shatter, a former Irish minister for Justice, Equality & Defense, writing in the Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, Ben and Jerry’s decision is a “surrender to almost ten years of pressure from” Vermonters for Justice in Palestine.” [10]

Peter Lackowski

According to the website of Vermonters for Justice in Palestine, the group originally formed at the instigation of Peter Lackowski, a retired Vermont school teacher. [11] [12]

References

  1.  “Longread.” Vermonters for justice in Palestine. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://vtjp.org/longread/ ^
  2.  Lee, Sarah. “The Bullying of Ben & Jerry.” Townhall. July 9, 2022. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://townhall.com/tipsheet/sarahlee/2022/07/09/untitled-n2609979 ^
  3.  “Longread.” Vermonters for justice in Palestine. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://vtjp.org/longread/ ^
  4.  “Longread.” Vermonters for justice in Palestine. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://vtjp.org/longread/ ^
  5. Editorial: “Calling out BDS anti-Semitism.” The Canadian Jewish News. August 26, 2015. Accessed January 29, 2018. http://www.cjnews.com/perspectives/opinions/calling-bds-anti-semitism ^
  6. “Longread.” Vermonters for justice in Palestine. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://vtjp.org/longread/ ^
  7. Ring, Wilson and Josef Federman. “Ben & Jerry’s to stop sales in West Bank, east Jerusalem.” Associated Press. July 19, 2021. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://apnews.com/article/ben-and-jerrys-ice-cream-palestinian-territories-d8488b4c9c19dac11e2c253530d63014 ^
  8. Ring, Wilson. “Ben & Jerry’s sues over Unilever’s maneuver in Israel, claiming breach of independence.” Burlington Free Press. July 7, 2022. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/money/2022/07/07/ben-jerrys-sues-over-unilevers-distribution-deal-in-israel-occupied-territories/65368830007/ ^
  9. Ring, Wilson. “Ben & Jerry’s sues over Unilever’s maneuver in Israel, claiming breach of independence.” Burlington Free Press. July 7, 2022. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/money/2022/07/07/ben-jerrys-sues-over-unilevers-distribution-deal-in-israel-occupied-territories/65368830007/ ^
  10. Shatter, Alan. “Ben & Jerry’s – proud Zionists or BDS supporters?” The Jerusalem Post. August 28, 2021. Accessed July 25, 2022. ^
  11. Lackowski, Peter. “Bolivia’s Five-Hundred-Year Rebellion.” Toward Freedom. February 28, 2021. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://towardfreedom.org/americas-2/bolivias-five-hundred-year-rebellion/ ^
  12. “Longread.” Vermonters for justice in Palestine. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://vtjp.org/longread/ ^
  See an error? Let us know!

Vermonters for Justice in Palestine (VTJP)


Burlington, VT