Ben & Jerry’s owner Unilever has agreed to a new arrangement under which the ice-cream will continue to be sold throughout Israel, including in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, and in Judea, and Samaria.
In another victory over the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, Ben & Jerry’s owner Unilever has agreed to a new arrangement under which the ice-cream will continue to be sold throughout Israel, including in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, and in Judea, and Samaria.
We have previously covered Ben & Jerry’s decision to boycott Israel and its fallout:
- Ben & Jerry’s To Boycott “Occupied Palestinian Territory” Including Ancient Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem
- Ben & Jerry’s Co-Founders Defend Boycotting Israel, But Won’t Boycott Texas and Georgia
- Illinois Divests Pension Funds From Unilever Over Ben & Jerry’s Israel Boycott
- Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Israeli Company Sues Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever To Maintain License
As we reported in March, Ben & Jerry’s Israeli manufacturer-distributor sued the ice-cream maker and its owner, Unilever, for canceling his contract in a dispute arising from Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling ice-cream in what it called “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The Israeli manufacturer-distributer, Avi Zinger and his company, American Quality Products Ltd., refused to stop selling across the “Green Line” (i.e., within the eastern part of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria). Ben & Jerry’s then refused to renew Zinger’s license, and Zinger sued,
The company has sold its Ben & Jerry’s business interests in Israel to Avi Zinger, the owner of American Quality Products Ltd (AQP), the current Israel-based licensee. 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 also denounced discrimination. It made clear that it doesn’t support the anti-Israel boycott movement – although it didn’t explicitly denounce it:
Unilever rejects completely and repudiates unequivocally any form of discrimination or intolerance. Antisemitism has no place in any society. We have never expressed any support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement and have no intention of changing that position.
Not all have presented the deal as a victory for BDS opponents and for Israel. Some on the left have tried to portray it as the beginning of the end for Israel.
Based on reports, hard to see why this is being spun as a victory by anti-BDS folks. In effect this marks B&J – the intl brand's – complete withdrawal from both Israel & West Bank, replaced by a wholly distinct Israeli brand (permitted to sell ONLY in Israel & WB). https://t.co/4oCFlKV1HK
— Lara Friedman (@LaraFriedmanDC) June 29, 2022
Despite efforts to force an apartheid analogy onto Israel by comparing the deal to foreign investors “selling off assets” and “abandoning” South Africa, Unilever is still there. Unilever’s press release explicitly states:
Unilever is very proud of our business in Israel which supplies everyday household products to people across the country. Today, Unilever Israel employs around 2,000 people of diverse backgrounds, has four local manufacturing plants, and works with a network of around 2,000 local suppliers and service providers – helping to support the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Israelis across its value chain.
Over the last decade, Unilever has invested more than 1 billion Shekels (around €250 million) in our business in Israel. We look forward to continuing to make a positive contribution to Israel’s economy and society for many decades to come, and hope that Israelis and Palestinians can reach a peaceful resolution of their conflict.
Rather than abandoning Israel, Unilever is selling Israel a small piece of its business so it can stay there. At the same time, people throughout Israel will be able to buy the same ice-cream product, from the same (local) manufacturer as before, whereas they had been threatened with a cutoff.
Israel welcomed Unilever’s announcement with its own press release, commending Unilever for its decision to let the ice-cream be sold without discrimination, and congratulating Avi Zinger.
This decision not only ensures that the Ben & Jerry’s factory and its diverse workforce, will be protected, but that its customers both Jewish and Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian, will not be targeted by the de-legitimization campaign against Israel.
Israel appreciates the constructive and respectful manner in which Unilever worked to resolve this issue, and the very strong stand the company has taken against antisemitism and the BDS agenda.
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