Ben & Jerry’s, the popular American ice cream company, announced on Monday, July 19, that it would no longer market its products in the occupied Palestinian territories, yielding to Palestinian pressure and claiming that doing so was “inconsistent” with the company’s values.
Ben & Jerry’s operates a factory in Israel’s Be’er Tuviya and has done business there since 1987. The company, which was launched in Vermont in 1978 but is now owned by Unilever, supports progressive principles and promotes social justice movements.
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the company said in a statement posted on its website Monday. “We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”
Although there is still debate about the nature of Israel’s conflict, Human Rights Watch, an international humanitarian organization that researches and advocates for human rights, recently stated in a report that Israel’s actions amounted to crimes against humanity, including apartheid and persecution of Palestinians, Reuters reports.
In the West Bank, where Israel took and occupied land in a 1967 war but which Palestinians claim as the heartland of a future state, more than 440,000 Israeli settlers coexist uncomfortably with approximately 3 million Palestinians.
Israeli settlements on Palestinian property are considered unlawful by the majority of countries. This is something Israel denies.
Ben & Jerry’s announced on Monday that when its license agreement with its Israeli partner expires at the end of next year, it will not be renewed. However, it will remain in Israel under a new arrangement, with no sales to Palestinians.
Ben & Jerry’s has faced reaction and boycotts for its presence in the region as violence, and global tensions have risen in recent months. The brand’s public outrage has attracted a lot of media attention.
The Israeli boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) applauded the decision, calling it is “a decisive step towards ending the company’s complicity in Israel’s occupation and violations of Palestinian rights.”
“Ben & Jerry’s, a leading socially responsible international company, is finally bringing its policy on Israel’s regime of oppression against Palestinians in line with its progressive positions on Black Lives Matter and other justice struggles,” it said.
The BDS movement, Israel claims, is driven by a desire to portray Israel as illegitimate.
“Over 30 states in the United States have passed anti-BDS legislation in recent years. I plan on asking each of them to enforce these laws against Ben & Jerry’s,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.
Ben & Jerry’s has announced that sales in the Occupied Palestinian Territory will be halted. The company says “will stay in Israel through a different arrangement” and “share an update on this as soon as we’re ready.”