By David Hellerman, World Israel News
Ben & Jerry’s denounced parent company Unilever’s arrangement to continue selling its popular ice cream in Israel.
“We are aware of the Unilever announcement. While our parent company has taken this decision, we do not agree with it.” Ben & Jerry’s said on Twitter.
“Unilever’s arrangement means Ben and Jerry’s in Israel will be owned and operated by AQP [American Quality Products, Ltd]. Our company will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel,” the Vermont-based company 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.”
Unilever, the British-based conglomerate which owns Ben & Jerry’s announced on Wednesday it had secured a “new arrangement” for the sale of its Ben & Jerry’s brand ice cream “throughout Israel and the West Bank”. The ice cream will now be sold exclusively under its Hebrew and Arabic names.
There will be no geographic restrictions on where Zinger may sell the ice cream.
As part of the new arrangement, Unilever has sold its Israeli rights to the Ben & Jerry’s brand to Avi Zinger, owner of American Quality Products Ltd, the company which till now had distributed the ice cream in Israel as a licensee.
The deal will allow the sale of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream across Israel, including in Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, without Unilever’s direct involvement in the sales.
“The new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank under the full ownership of its current licensee,” Unilever said.
The Vermont-based ice cream maker set off a firestorm of controversy last year when it announced it would no longer sell its frozen treats in Judea and Samaria.
Putting pressure on Unilever were 35 U.S. states which have anti-BDS laws. To date, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, and Arizona already announced that they had or would divest their holdings in Unilever. These laws are credited with quickly reversing Airbnb’s boycott of Israeli settlements in 2019.
In response, Zinger, the Israeli licensee, sued Unilever. The new arrangement to sell the ice cream is part of the settlement of that suit.
Unilever’s announcement also “unequivocally” condemned any form of discrimination or intolerance, saying antisemitism “has no place in any society”. Unilever also distanced itself from the anti-Israel BDS movement, without explicitly condemning it.
“We have never expressed any support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement and have no intention of changing that position,” the statement said.
Unilever’s 400 brands include a wide variety of familiar consumer goods such as Dove personal care products, Lipton tea, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Sunlight soap.