Perhaps Ben & Jerry’s ice cream should not have announced that they are boycotting Israel right in the middle of summer. Their decision sparked an outcry all around the world that has already resulted in delicious containers of their confection being tossed into the trash in TikTok videos and Instagram photos.
Deciding that their frozen treats will no longer be available to Jews and Palestinians alike is Ben & Jerry’s latest move protesting Israel’s so-called occupation of the “West Bank”.
Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, announced this week that they will not be renewing their license with their franchise company in Israel to sell products in the “occupied territories” – in other words, Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. In a statement, the ice cream company said, “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.”
Their current license will expire at the end of 2022. The announcement sparked fierce backlash, not only in Israel, but all over the world.
As more information emerged, it came to light that Ben & Jerry’s Israel, the Israeli company that produces Ben & Jerry’s in Israel, is completely opposed to Unilever’s decision. CEO Avi Zinger has been fighting the parent company on this very issue for a long time. The Israeli Ben & Jerry’s company supplies many jobs to Israelis as their factory is in Israel, and the move to remove their products from shelves in the biblical heartland could have a devastating impact. Zinger has vowed to continue fighting the decision before his distribution license runs out in 2022.
Lawmakers and business leaders all over the world are already cracking down on Unilever, the owners of Ben & Jerry’s Global. A grocery chain in New York has reduced their plans to sell Ben & Jerry’s by 70% and has moved their current stock to their lower shelves. 35 states in the US currently have anti-BDS legislation, and can hold Unilever responsible if they choose. The state of Texas announced that they will begin investigating whether or not Unilever is in violation of their anti-BDS laws. Oklahoma Senator James Lankford has already called on his state to ban Ben & Jerry products from the state. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has also sent a letter to Unilever, threatening to sanction the company if they do not re-think their decision.
In Israel meanwhile, Israelis are being encouraged to continue buying the controversial ice cream products. Because they are being produced in Israel, providing thousands of jobs to Israeli citizens, and the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Israel is determined to fight the Unilever decision, Israel’s government leaders are encouraging citizens to continue buying the ice cream in an effort to fight the boycott.
If you’re outside Israel, the best thing you can do right now is ditch that sweet, frozen treat and make your stand with Israel and against anti-semitism. Snap a photo or video while you’re at it and post it to social media.
Together, we just might get Ben & Jerry’s to change their minds.