Ben & Jerry’s defies Unilever over business in Israel
Unilever on Wednesday sold its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream business in Israel to its local licensee for an undisclosed sum, aiming to smooth over a potentially damaging diplomatic row over the company’s political stance.
Ben & Jerry’s on Thursday issued a statement which said, “
We are aware of the Unilever announcement. While our parent company has taken this decision, we do not agree with it. “
It added We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “
It said, “Unilever’s arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s in Israel will be owned and operated by AQP. Our company will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel.”
The deal comes after the U.S. ice cream brand announced last year it would stop marketing products in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, saying that selling there was “inconsistent” with its values. Under the new arrangement Ben & Jerry’s ice cream will be available to all consumers in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
The episode highlighted the challenges facing consumer brands taking a stand on Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinians, such as San Francisco-based Airbnb, which in 2019 reversed its decision to delist Israeli settlements.
The international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to pressure Israel to abide by international law in its treatment of the Palestinians. Israel says such boycotts are discriminatory and anti-Semitic.
On Wednesday, Israel’s foreign ministry called the Ben & Jerry’s deal “a huge