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Ben & Jerry’s founders slam Unilever’s ice cream sale to Israeli licensee

Jul 01, 2022

By Neelam Rahim

The deal comes after the US ice-cream brand announced it’d stop marketing products within 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 any or all consumers in Israel and the occupied geographical area.

Under the new arrangement announced on Wednesday, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is available to all or any consumers in Israel and the occupied West Bank, including in Jewish settlements.

Ben & Jerry’s Jewish founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, now do not manage the brand but are well-known for their commitment to social justice. They have recently expressed strong support for the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ rights and electoral campaign finance reform.

Ben & Jerry’s also blasted parent company Unilever for selling the Vermont-based firm’s operations in Israel to a neighbourhood licensee — effectively circumventing a boycott of Jewish settlements on the occupied geographic area.

The official Twitter account of the ice cream maker founded by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield posted a brief tweet thread on Wednesday — hours after Unilever announced its agreement to sell Ben & Jerry’s to Avi Zinger of yank Quality Products.

“We still believe it’s inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold within the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” Ben & Jerry’s tweeted on Wednesday.

AQP is the Israeli company that owned the contract to sell Ben & Jerry’s in Israel exclusively. It paid an undisclosed sum of cash to Unilever, effectively ending a dispute that included a federal lawsuit.

Ben & Jerry’s continued: “Unilever’s arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s in Israel are going to be owned and operated by AQP. Our company will not benefit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel.”

The boycott by Ben & Jerry’s created a promotional material headache for Unilever as pro-Israel politicians within the US announced retaliatory economic measures.

The states of New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Texas have divested a combined $1 billion in pension fund investments from Unilever, concluding Ben & Jerry’s action violated their anti-boycott laws.

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