New York City’s likely new comptroller has made his first big flip flop, courtesy of Ben and Jerry’s.
Brad Lander, a City Councilman poised to become comptroller after winning last month’s Democratic primary, was once a staunch supporter of Israel who has now declared his approval for the ice cream company’s controversial decision to stop selling in the West Bank.
In response to Ben and Jerry’s announcement, Lander tweeted this week that “ending Israel’s military occupation is a moral imperative,” adding he disagreed with moves by the state comptroller’s office to restrict investments in Ben and Jerry’s parent company Unilever over the issue.
The Brooklyn Democrat said he was “a Jewish New Yorker who cares about the wellbeing of both Israelis and Palestinians,” but the leftward pivot is a significant departure from Lander’s days in the City Council, when he co-sponsored a May 2016 resolution “condemning all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the people of Israel.” That same year he attended the annual Celebrate Israel Parade.
“As a proud, active, progressive Jew, I feel deeply invested in Israel,” he said in a statement about the 2016 resolution, adding he cared “a great deal about Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish, democratic state, a haven for Jews in times of trouble.”
In 2015, anti-Israel partisans attacked Lander for going on an Israel junket paid for by the city’s Jewish Community Relations Council.
“If he wants to be an ambassador or a foreign policy person he should run for president. In the meantime he should stick to his own business,” New York Democratic campaign consultant Hank Sheinkopf said of Lander.