Ben & Jerry's to end sales in the West Bank

The ice cream brand said continuing to sell in the West Bank would be 'inconsistent with our values'


A man buys Ben & Jerry's ice cream in Jerusalem on July 20, 2021. - American ice cream-maker Ben & Jerry's announced on July 19, 2021 they would stop selling their ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying its sale "is inconsistent with our values." In a statement, the Unilever subsidiary said they "hear and recognise the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners," without elaborating. (Photo by Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP) (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s has said it will cease selling its products in the West Bank.

In a statement posted to social media on Monday, the business said continuing to sell ice cream in the “occupied Palestinian Territory” would be “inconsistent with our values”.

The move sparked widespread condemnation from politicians and leading Jewish communal figures across Israel and the West. 

Ben & Jerry’s has a history of involvement in political and social causes, including campaigning on climate change and the issue of white supremacy. 

The business’ latest move into Middle East activism follows years of sustained pressure from campaigners for the ice cream brand to withdraw sales from the Jewish State. 

In an online statement, Ben & Jerry’s 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. 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.”

Ben & Jerry’s confirmed it will continue to sell its products throughout the rest of Israel “through a different arrangement”. However, board members originally pushed for the business to possibly cease trading in Israel entirely. 

Ben & Jerry’s chairman Anuradha Mittal told NBC News that the brand never intended to include a line in its statement on maintaining trade beyond the West Bank. Instead, Ben & Jerry's parent company Unilever added the clarification. 

A spokesperson for the board said: “The statement released by Ben & Jerry’s regarding its operation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (the OPT) does not reflect the position of the independent board, nor was it approved by the independent board.

“By taking a position and publishing a statement without the approval of the independent board on an issue directly related to Ben & Jerry’s social mission and brand integrity, Unilever and its CEO at Ben & Jerry’s are in violation of the spirit and the letter of the acquisition agreement.”

Following the announcement that Ben & Jerry's would cease trade in the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with Unilever CEO Alan Jope. A spokesperson for Mr Bennett said the Prime Minister “made it clear that he views with utmost gravity the decision by Ben & Jerry's to boycott Israel and added that this is a subsidiary of Unilever, which has taken a clearly anti-Israel step”.

Mr Bennett also “emphasized that from the perspective of the State of Israel, this is an action that has severe consequences, including legal, and it will take strong action against any boycott directed against its citizens”. 

Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid said: “Ben & Jerry’s decision represents shameful surrender to antisemitism, to BDS and to all that is wrong with the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discourse. We will not be silent.

“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. They will not treat the State of Israel like this without a response.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive