Although Ben & Jerry’s ice cream won't be sold in East Jerusalem and the West Bank anymore, it will still be sold in Israel and over 35 other countries across the globe.
On July 19, the popular ice cream company announced that it was ending its longstanding partnership with a licensee that manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it to the occupied territories.
A company statement said, “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).”
Ben & Jerry's said that the ice cream will still be available in Israel but through “a different arrangement.”
Israeli officials aren’t happy about the Ben & Jerry’s announcement.
In response to the announcement, Israeli officials said there would be “severe consequences” for Ben & Jerry’s owner Unilever, Reuters reported. The CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Israel told Reuters that the action by Unilever came after he wasn't willing to stop selling to Israeli citizens living in settlements in the occupied territories.
Ben & Jerry’s has a manufacturing facility and two scoop shops located south of Tel Aviv, just outside the occupied territories. The Israel production facility is one of four that Ben & Jerry’s has in the world. The company also operates two production locations in its home state of Vermont and one in the Netherlands.
Ben & Jerry’s is sold in over 35 countries.
Pulling sales from East Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement in the West Bank shouldn’t have a major impact on Ben & Jerry’s sales. The ice cream is available in over 35 different countries, including Australia, Canada, the Phillippines, the United Arab Emirates, Poland, and most of Europe.
The OPT isn't the first place that the company has stopped sales. The ice cream was also previously pulled from the shelves in Russia and Hong Kong.
Ben & Jerry’s has a history of political action.
Founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the Ben & Jerry’s brand was sold to British conglomerate Unilever in 2000. Since the beginning, the brand has often used its ice cream flavors as political statements. In 2018, Ben & Jerry’s released the flavor “Pecan Resist” in opposition to President Trump. Another flavor, “Bernie’s Yearning” was released in 2016 to support Senator Bernie Sanders’s bid for president.
As stated on its website, Ben & Jerry’s mission is to “use ice cream to change the world.”
“Guided by our Core Values, we seek in all we do, at every level of our business, to advance human rights and dignity, support social and economic justice for historically marginalized communities, and protect and restore the Earth's natural systems,” the website states.
Fans have urged Ben & Jerry’s to end Israel operations.
Even as far back as 2012, fans of the brand have urged the company to end its ties with the Israel operations. The organization Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel (VTJP) has led the charge. However, the group didn't support Ben & Jerry’s recent announcement about ending sales in occupied Palestine. The action doesn’t go far enough, according to VTJP members.
"By maintaining a presence in Israel, Ben & Jerry's continues to be complicit in the killing, imprisonment and dispossession of Palestinian people and the flaunting of international law. Israel destroys lives and property in the lands it occupies by force," said VTJP member Kathy Shapiro in a statement.