Progressive ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s announced Monday it will no longer sell its ice cream in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners,” the company said in a statement.
“We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year,” the statement continued.
Ben & Jerry’s said it will continue selling its products in Israel “through a different arrangement,” just not the OPT.
According to The Jerusalem Post, the announcement marks a win for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has targeted Ben & Jerry’s for years.
The group Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine had been particularly active on the issue.
It a statement titled “Success,” BDS said the decision was a “decisive step toward ending the company’s complicity in Israel’s occupation and violation of Palestinian rights.” (The Jerusalem Post)
Ben & Jerry’s Israel immediately pushed back on the announcement, with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also calling the move "morally wrong" and one that would end up being "financially wrong" as well.
“We call on the Israeli government and the consumers not to allow Israel to be boycotted,” Ben & Jerry’s Israel announced on Twitter.
“This is an unprecedented move by Unilever,” the Israeli licensee said, adding that ice cream and politics should not be mixed. (The Jerusalem Post)
American critics were just as vocal.
B&J say they are sensitive to concerns of their fans..Im a fan, Im also Jewish and Im upset! Every square inch of "OPT"or as the Bible refers, Judea and Samaria, is biblical land. Abraham is buried in Hebron, Jesus born in Bethlehem, Ark of Covenant in Shiloh. Love Thy Neighbor! https://t.co/Q1BRfJOUsx— Bruce Pearl (@coachbrucepearl) July 20, 2021
We are having a board meeting this afternoon to discuss ending sales of your ice cream in our supermarket chain.— Avi Kaner (@AviKaner) July 19, 2021
Will you stop selling in China?— Cernovich (@Cernovich) July 19, 2021
Lovely choice of background on your press release. It sure reminds me of the Hamas terrorist organisation flag. pic.twitter.com/bh73oR7Gei— ??????? ??? ?????? |Eran Cicurel |????? ??????? (@EranCicurel) July 19, 2021
Just FYI, @benandjerrys operates in #China, and to the best of my knowledge, has not said anything about Hong Kong or the ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs.— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) July 19, 2021
But hey, priorities & corporate social responsibility and all that … https://t.co/XHXSAK6V2R
The BDS movement is antisemitic at its core. It’s shameful that a prominent American company would legitimize a movement that promotes antisemitism and demonizes the Israeli people. https://t.co/nGbFsQvlmr— Congresswoman Tenney (@RepTenney) July 19, 2021
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even weighed in.
Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy ?????? https://t.co/j7VNpIWX0f— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) July 19, 2021