Person

Anuradha Mittal

Anuradha Mittal is an American left-of-center activist. She is the founder of the Oakland Institute and the chair of the board of activist ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s. [1] [2] Her work with the institute and her initiative to have Ben & Jerry’s partially boycott Israel have led to accusations of antisemitism. [3]

Board Memberships

Anuradha Mittal is the board chair of Ben & Jerry’s, a major ice cream maker and distributor which has an extensive track record of left-progressive activism. She is also the vice president of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm. [4] [5]

In 2020, Mittal also joined the board of the Environmental Defender Law Center, a left-of-center legal activist group which provides support to environmentalist activists around the world. [6]

Oakland Institute

Anuradha Mittal is the founder and director of the Oakland Institute, a think tank which publishes left-progressive analysis of topics related to human rights, international development, and agricultural policy. [7] The institute typically prioritizes issues affecting the third world, especially those involving disputes between indigenous groups and governments or corporations, but has also addressed issues such as the privatization of farmland in Ukraine and the World Bank’s involvement in the Philippines. [8]

The institute has published a series of reports on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The reports prioritize the perspectives of Palestinian Arabs and accuse Israel of inflicting “70 years of occupation and displacement” on Arabs living in the disputed Gaza Strip and West Bank of the Jordan River. [9]

In August 2021, the Washington Free Beacon reported that the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, where Mittal works as vice president and serves as a trustee, has awarded more than $170,000 in grants to the Oakland Institute. The Beacon claimed that the grants “could run afoul of self-dealing laws, which prohibit private foundations from using funds to benefit their trustees.” [10]

Media Profile

In 2008, The Nation, a leading left-progressive magazine for which Mittal has written, named Anuradha Mittal the “most valuable thinker” of the year. She has also written articles for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, and other publications. Mittal has been interviewed by numerous American and international news channels, including CNN, ABC, NPR, and Voice of America, as well as Britain’s BBC, Canada’s CBC, and Qatar’s Al-Jazeera. [11]

Ben & Jerry’s Israel Controversy

In July 2021, the pro-Israel activist organization Stop Antisemitism labeled Anuradha Mittal as its “anti-Semite of the of week.” The website called Mittal “the driving force” behind Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop distributing its products in Israeli settlements in territories whose sovereign status is in dispute between the State of Israel and Palestinian Arabs. Stop Antisemitism also accused Mittal of having “a long history of supporting antisemitic causes.” The organization cited a series of nine reports which she co-authored for the Oakland Institute titled “Palestine for Land & Life.” According to Stop Antisemitism, these reports “falsely accused Israel of apartheid, colonialism, and land grabbing.” In addition, Stop Antisemitism claimed that Mittal “also uses her role at the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation to funnel money … to fund antisemitic projects.” The organization demanded that Ben & Jerry’s cut all ties with Mittal. [12]

Mittal posted a response to her critics on Twitter, where she reiterated that she was “proud of [Ben & Jerry’s] for taking a stance to end sale of its ice cream” in what she called “the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” At the same time, she said that “this action is not anti-Semitic” and that she herself was not anti-Jewish. Mittal claimed that she had endured “vile hate” as a result of the company’s actions, and called on her critics to “pls [sic] work for peace – not hatred.” [13]

Ben and Jerry’s parent corporation Unilever issued a statement which defended its decision to allow the ice cream company to engage in left-of-center activism through its independent board, which Mittal oversees. Unilever did not explicitly endorse or disavow the boycott. However, Unilever condemned the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement against Israel and confirmed that Ben & Jerry’s would still sell its products in Israel  in a statement to the Anti-Defamation League, a leading left-of-center Jewish advocacy group. [14]

References

  1. Anuradha Mittal. Oakland Institute. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/about/people/anuradha-mittal ^
  2. “Antisemite of the Week: Anuradha Mittal – The Bigot Behind Ben & Jerry’s Boycott.” Stop Antisemitism. July 24, 2021. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.stopantisemitism.org/antisemite-of-the-week5-1/antisemite-of-the-week-anuradha-mittal-the-bigot-behind-ben-amp-jerrys-boycott ^
  3. “Antisemite of the Week: Anuradha Mittal – The Bigot Behind Ben & Jerry’s Boycott.” Stop Antisemitism. July 24, 2021. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.stopantisemitism.org/antisemite-of-the-week5-1/antisemite-of-the-week-anuradha-mittal-the-bigot-behind-ben-amp-jerrys-boycott ^
  4. “Antisemite of the Week: Anuradha Mittal – The Bigot Behind Ben & Jerry’s Boycott.” Stop Antisemitism. July 24, 2021. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.stopantisemitism.org/antisemite-of-the-week5-1/antisemite-of-the-week-anuradha-mittal-the-bigot-behind-ben-amp-jerrys-boycott ^
  5. Issues We Care About. Ben & Jerry’s. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.benjerry.com/values/issues-we-care-about ^
  6. Anuradha Mittal. Oakland Institute. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/about/people/anuradha-mittal ^
  7. Anuradha Mittal. Oakland Institute. Accessed August 23, 2021.

    https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/about/people/anuradha-mittal ^

  8. Land Rights. Oakland Institute. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/land-rights-issue ^
  9. “Palestine: For Land and Life.” Oakland Institute. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/palestine-for-land-life ^
  10. Alana Goodman. “Ben and Jerry’s Gave $170,000 in Grants to Board Trustee’s Anti-Israel Foundation.” The Washington Free Beacon. August 4, 2021. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://freebeacon.com/culture/ben-and-jerrys-gave-170000-in-grants-to-board-trustees-anti-israel-foundation/ ^
  11. Anuradha Mittal. Oakland Institute. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/about/people/anuradha-mittal ^
  12. “Antisemite of the Week: Anuradha Mittal – The Bigot Behind Ben & Jerry’s Boycott.” Stop Antisemitism. July 24, 2021. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.stopantisemitism.org/antisemite-of-the-week5-1/antisemite-of-the-week-anuradha-mittal-the-bigot-behind-ben-amp-jerrys-boycott ^
  13. Anuradha Mittal. Twitter. July 27, 2021. Accessed September 14, 2021. https://twitter.com/mittaloak/status/1420025947051466771?lang=en ^
  14. Jonathan Greenblatt. Twitter. July 27, 2021. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://twitter.com/JGreenblattADL/status/1420036076647948290?s=20 ^
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