Selling Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream in West Bank ‘Inconsistent With Our Values,’ Says Ice Cream Maker
The agreement reached on Wednesday between food giant Unilever and its Israeli licensee allowing sales of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to resume in Israel and the West Bank has been rejected by the ice cream makers themselves.
A tweet on Thursday from the official Ben and Jerry’s account confirmed that the company was aware of Unilever’s decision, which was reached in response to lawsuit filed by Avi Zinger of the Israeli food distributor American Quality Products (AQP). According to the lawsuit, filed by Zinger last March in the US District Court of New Jersey, where Unilever’s US operation is headquartered, Ben and Jerry’s demanded that his company refuse to sell their products in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, in contravention of Israeli and US laws. When Zinger declined to comply with Ben and Jerry’s demand, the ice cream maker refused to renew his company’s license.
“While our parent company has taken this decision, we do not agree with it,” the Ben and Jerry’s tweet declared.
It added that “Unilever’s arrangement means Ben and Jerry’s in Israel will be owned and operated by AQP. Our company will no longer profit from Ben and Jerry’s in Israel.”
“We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben and Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” it concluded.
The boycott decision last year set off an intense backlash in the US, where states including New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, and Texas moved to sell off investments in Unilever to comply with statutes barring business with entities boycotting Israel.
The Unilever announcement on Wednesday was warmly welcomed by the Israeli government.
“The Ben and Jerry’s factory in Israel is a microcosm of the diversity of Israeli society,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid remarked. “Today’s victory is a victory for all those who know that the struggle against BDS is, first and foremost, a struggle for partnership and dialogue, and against discrimination and hate.”