WASHINGTON, Tuesday, July 20, 2021 (WAFA) – US ice cream company Ben & Jerry's Monday announced that it will end its sales in the occupied Palestinian territories.
In a statement posted on its website, the Vermont-based ice cream maker 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.”
“We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region,” read the statement.
“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 company pointed that while its products will no longer be sold in the occupied territories, it “will stay in Israel through a different arrangement.”
The statement did not explicitly identify the concerns raised, but a group called Vermonters for Justice for Palestine (VTJP) has been leading a campaign against Ben & Jerry’s for years and in 2015 the company became a target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). The campaign had received increased attention after Israel’s most recent onslught on Gaza.
In a press release, dated June 10, VTJP called on Ben & Jerry’s to “be consistent in their values and to stop allowing their ice cream to be sold in segregated Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in flagrant violation of international law.”
“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?” said Ian Stokes, of VTJP. “We say to Ben & Jerry’s: Don’t be on the wrong side of history. The time for corporate courage and social responsibility in defense of the human rights of the Palestinian people is now,” the statement added.
Palestinian groups praised the decision while highlighting the need for further action.
“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,” said The Palestinian BDS National Committee in a statement. “We hope Ben & Jerry’s has understood that, in harmony with its social justice commitments, there can be no business as usual with apartheid Israel.”
The Adalah Justice Project, a US-based pro-Palestinian campaign group, welcomed the move, describing it as a "huge win for the Palestinian struggle for freedom."
The group added, however, that they would continue to call for “a complete disengagement from all business dealings with apartheid Israel.”
“We applaud Ben & Jerry’s decision to end business in the settlements. Israel a settler colonial state from the river to the sea. We won’t rest,” it elaborated.
Jewish Voice for Peace welcomed the move as “a testament to the power of BDS organizing and to growing public support for Palestinian freedom.”
“Although this is a big win for our movement, B&J’s statement leaves a lot to be desired. As Palestinians — and more recently, prominent human rights organizations — have been saying, Israel is an apartheid state, and its oppression of Palestinians is not contained within the “occupied territories.” Ben & Jerry's should apply their values throughout all areas where Palestinians need freedom,” it added.