Ice cream Company Ben & Jerry's announced on Monday that it will end the sale of its ice cream in the Palestinian territories of 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)," the company stated in a notice it posted on its website. The ice cream maker said the move reflected the concerns of "fans and trusted partners".
Unilever Expresses Commitment to Its Presence in Israel
Ben & Jerry's clarified that it was not boycotting Israel, just the "occupied Palestinian territories." It said it would maintain its sales relationship with areas of Israel within the pre-1967 borders.
"Although Ben & Jerry's will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement," it said. "We will share an update on this as soon as we're ready."
As the ice cream giant declares settlement boycott, UK firm Unilever, which has owned Ben & Jerry's since 2000, says the decision was taken and announced by Ben & Jerry's and its independent board, reported BBC. It also said that it is still "fully committed" to maintaining a presence in Israel.
Israeli PM: There Are Many Ice Cream Brands, But Only One Jewish State
The ice cream company's decision did not go well with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. The newly-elected PM slammed the decision, saying that Ben & Jerry's is "morally wrong". "The boycott of Israel - a democracy surrounded by islands of terror - reflects a complete loss of bearings. The boycott does not work and will not work, and we will fight it with all our might," he said.
Lapid called the boycott a "shameful surrender to antisemitism, to BDS and to all that is wrong with the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discourse."
The BDS Connection
According to The Jerusalem Post, the move gives a boost to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which for the last decade has targeted the global company. BDS said the decision was a "decisive step toward ending the company's complicity in Israel's occupation and violation of Palestinian rights."
BDS is a Palestinian-led movement promoting boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against Israel. According to its official website, the BDS movement works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law. According to a report published in The Guardian, the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel has been driving the world a little bit mad.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid informed that 30 states in the United States have passed anti-BDS legislation in recent years. "I plan on asking each of them to enforce these laws against Ben & Jerry's. They will not treat the State of Israel like this without a response."
Track Record of Campaigning on Social Issues
Ben & Jerry's is a Vermont-based company that manufactures ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet. It was founded in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont by best friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. It was sold in 2000 to British conglomerate Unilever.
Ben & Jerry's has expressed the company's views on several social issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, refugee rights, racial justice, climate change etc.
The company has called on the United States to end white supremacy and launched a podcast on racism in America last year.
It has aligned itself with liberal causes, including diverting some funds destined for police departments and investing "that money in community-driven solutions that foster real health, peacekeeping, and safety," it said in a statement in June 2020, reported CNN.