Jewish-founded ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s is not giving up the fight to boycott Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.
Last year the company sparked a major backlash by effectively joining the anti-Israel BDS movement and forbidding its products from being sold in Jewish towns in the biblical heartland.
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But Ben & Jerry’s parent company, global food giant Unilever, isn’t so enthusiastic to tie itself to a “social justice” crusade.
Unilever has reached a deal to allow the local Israeli distributor to continue selling Ben & Jerry’s ice cream wherever he pleases. Ben & Jerry’s responded on Tuesday by filing a US federal lawsuit against Unilever, in a bid to torpedo the agreement.
Unilever’s deal with Avi Zinger, the owner of American Quality Products Ltd., gave him total independence to manufacture and continue selling ice cream in Judea and Samaria with the Ben & Jerry’s logos appearing only in Hebrew and Arabic and not English.
The lawsuit claims that Unilever breached its deal with Ben & Jerry’s by circumventing the latter corporation’s July 2021 board decision to halt distribution in what it termed “occupied Palestinian territory.” The move drew widespread condemnation in Israel, including from then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett who described it as a “moral mistake.”
The boycott was slated to begin later this year when contracts with Zinger were set to expire.
According to Reuters, the ice cream maker is now seeking an injunction against Unilever’s move in order to “protect the brand and social integrity Ben & Jerry’s has spent decades building.” Its board voted 5-2 to sue, with two Unilever appointees dissenting, the report said.
The court reportedly denied a Ben & Jerry’s request for a temporary restraining order to freeze the agreement with Zinger.
After concluding the deal, Unilever released a statement saying that it had “used the opportunity of the past year to listen to perspectives on this complex and sensitive matter and believes this is the best outcome for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel. The review included extensive consultation over several months, including with the Israeli government.
“Unilever rejects completely and repudiates unequivocally any form of discrimination or intolerance. Antisemitism has no place in any society,” the statement added.
With reporting by JNS.