Ben & Jerry’s Founders Support Israel Boycott


Unilever Ben & Jerry’s

The whole Ben & Jerry’s in Israel saga has been going on for so long, with so many twists, HBO will probably soon announce a new TV series about it that will make Game of Thrones seem tame by comparison. In the latest twist, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s – who are both Jewish – have come out against the company’s current owner Unilever’s plan to sell the brand to the Israeli licensee for local use. They say that the move infringes on the company’s “mission” and values and its right to preserve these things even after they sold out to Unilever.

For perspective, a Federal court rejected the very same argument when Ben & Jerry’s management tried to sue Unilever over that very idea.

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Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield founded Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Vermont in 1978. The duo said that their mission was to “advance human rights and dignity.” And now the two men are saying they cannot just “sit idly by” after Unilever sold its interest in the ice-cream to the Israeli license holder in what was intended to be a compromise settlement of the whole feud between Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s management and supporters of Israel.

So, what is the big deal and why are all of these people whining about letting Israel sell Ben & Jerry’s? Well, in the summer of 2021 Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would not renew the contract with the Israeli company that distributed it in the country. Why? Well, the Israeli company refused Ben & Jerry’s demand that it cease sales of its products in areas of the West Bank controlled by Israel.

This led to a major backlash against Unilever throughout the United States. Many American states even went so far as to divest their pension funds of Unilever stock and even to ban doing business with the company. And there were even lawsuits filed against the company for violating American laws that prohibit American firms from honoring the BDS anti-Israel movement.

So, in June Unilever caved and agreed to the compromise deal with Avi Zinger’s American Quality Products. According to the deal, Unilever sold its Ben & Jerry’s business interests in Israel to Avi Zinger. But the agreement also stipulated that Ben & Jerry’s will only be sold in Israel under its Hebrew and Arabic names.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield finally spoke out themselves on this drama in an interview with MSNBC. Cohen said, “That agreement (the sale to Unilever) gave authority over the social mission to the independent board of Ben & Jerry’s. Unilever has usurped their authority and reversed a decision that was made. And we can’t allow that to happen. We can’t sit idly by”
Jerry Greenfield told MSNBC, “In order for us to sell the company, it was essential that we have this unique agreement in place.”

On his support for the boycotting of Israel, Ben Cohen said, “If I care about the people in Palestine just as much as I care about the people in Israel, is that anti-Semitic? There are mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers in Palestine that I care about. I care about their human rights.”