We welcome the decision by parent company Unilever to sell the rights of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in Israel to Avi Zinger, owner of licensee American Quality Products Ltd. This means the ice cream can now be sold “from the river to the sea” without involving Ben and Jerry’s in America.
In July 2021 Ben and Jerry’s posted a statement on its company website stating it
would end the sale of its ice cream in the “occupied Palestinian territory” as it believed “it is inconsistent with our values”.
At the same time of boycotting Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem, Ben and Jerry’s continued to sell their ice cream in Russia, China, Iran, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, and many other totalitarian states. Our research shows these products were still selling in every one of these countries up until May 2022. It is unclear what the current position is.
In addition, Ben and Jerry’s were quite content with selling to their own American states whose very “ethos” was “inconsistent” with their own beliefs.
The decision to boycott Judea and Samaria drew widespread condemnation in Israel and across many parts of the world, including some Unilever shareholders, one of whom filed a class-action suit against Unilever Plc in a New York Federal Court on 15 June.
Unilever is known as the maker of Dove soap products and other everyday household items. In a statement it said that it was proud of its business ventures in Israel, which employ approximately 2,000 people from different backgrounds and maintain four manufacturing facilities.
However, a huge amount of financial pressure was placed upon the company with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream sales plummeting across America while its share value fell by more than 15%.
Ben and Jerry’s expressed dissatisfaction with the decision this week, tweeting: “We are aware of the Unilever announcement. While our parent company has taken this decision, we do not agree with it.”
They stressed their company will not be profiting from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel, while the Israel owner, Avi Zinger, made it clear, he would now only use Hebrew and Arabic writing on the tubs of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and remove the familiar pictures on the sides.
When Ben and Jerry’s decided it no longer wished to sell their ice cream in Judea and Samaria in July 2021, it harmed the livelihood of at least 10 Palestinian workers who greatly benefited from working conditions and wages – something they could not receive elsewhere within the Palestinian Authority areas.
Whilst we welcome the decision from Unilever, we call upon the company to act against the toxic anti-Israel “Oakland Institute” which is run by activist, Anadhura Mittal, who also chairs the Ben and Jerry’s board.
It was Mittal who spearheaded efforts to stop ice cream sales in many places in Israel, long before any thought was given to sales in Iran, China, Bangladesh, and many other countries led by brutal dictators with appalling human rights records.