Ben & Jerry’s will stop selling its ice cream in Israel’s West Bank and disputed East Jerusalem, saying the sale in the territories sought by the Palestinians is “contrary to our values”.
The announcement was one of the strongest and most professional objections of the well-known company of Israeli policy of settling its citizens on war-torn countries.
The international community often considers settlements illegal and obstacles to peace.
Ben & Jerry’s will complete the sale of our ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Read our full statement: https://t.co/2mGWYGN4GA pic.twitter.com/kFeu7aXOf3
– Ben & Jerry’s (@benandjerrys) July 19, 2021
The move by the Vermont-based ice cream company met with a quick rebuke from Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the former leader of the West Bank settlement movement, who called it “an immoral decision and I believe it will turn out to be a business mistake as well.”
The company has notified its longtime licensee – responsible for the production and distribution of ice cream in Israel – that it will not renew the license agreement when it expires late next year, according to a statement posted on the Vermont-based company’s website.
Ben & Jerry’s statement states “the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”
The company did not explicitly identify the concern, but last month a group called Vermonters for Justice in Palestine called on Ben & Jerry’s to “end its involvement in the Israeli occupation and abuse of Palestinian human rights.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry called Ben & Jerry’s decision “a surrender to the constant and aggressive pressure of extreme anti-Israel groups,” and the company cooperated with “economic terrorism.”
“The decision is immoral and discriminatory because it singles out Israel, harms both Israelis and Palestinians, and encourages extremist groups that use violence tactics,” the ministry said in a statement. He also urged Ben & Jerry’s to withdraw their decision.
Although Ben & Jerry’s products will not be sold in the neighborhoods, the company said it will stay in Israel under a different arrangement.
But it will be difficult. The largest Israeli supermarket chains, the primary distribution channel for ice cream producers, operate in the settlements.
Founded in Vermont in 1978, but currently owned by the consumer goods conglomerate Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s has not shied away from social reasons.
Although many companies take politics lightly for fear of alienating customers, the ice cream maker has taken the opposite approach, often advocating progressive goals.
Ben & Jerry’s have taken a stand against what she called the Trump administration’s regressive policy of rebranding one of its Pecan Resist flavors in 2018, ahead of the midterm elections.
The company said Pecan Resist celebrated activists who resisted oppression, harmful environmental practices and injustice. As part of the campaign, Ben & Jerry’s said it was giving $ 25,000 each to four activist entities.