A famous international ice-cream chain has stopped its business in Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. In a statement posted on its website, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream said it was going to stop selling its ice cream in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying the sales are “inconsistent with our values”.
Israeli settlements in occupied territory are widely seen by the international community as illegal and obstacles to peace.
The Vermont-based ice cream maker, a Unilever company, says it recognises “the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners”.
“We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region,” the statement said. “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 did not explicitly identify the concerns raised, but last month, a group called Vermonters for Justice in Palestine called on Ben & Jerry’s to “end complicity in Israel’s occupation and abuses of Palestinian human rights”.
“How much longer will Ben & Jerry’s permit its Israeli-manufactured ice cream to be sold in Jewish-only settlements while Palestinian land is being confiscated, Palestinian homes are being destroyed, and Palestinian families in neighborhoods like Sheik Jarrah are facing eviction to make way for Jewish settlers?” the organisation’s Ian Stokes said in a June 10 news release.
Founded in Vermont in 1978, but currently owned by consumer goods conglomerate Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s has not shied away from social causes. While many businesses tread lightly in politics for fear of alienating customers, the ice cream maker has taken the opposite approach, often espousing progressive causes.
Ben & Jerry’s took a stand against what it called the Trump administration’s regressive policies by rebranding one of its flavours Pecan Resist in 2018, ahead of midterm elections.
The company said Pecan Resist celebrated activists who were resisting oppression, harmful environmental practices and injustice. As part of the campaign, Ben & Jerry’s said it was giving $25,000 each to four activist entities.