Ben & Jerry's Announces Withdrawal From West Bank

Company says its ice cream won't be sold in 'Occupied Palestinian Territory'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2021 6:35 PM CDT
Ben & Jerry's Announces Withdrawal From West Bank
Ice cream moves along the production line at Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream, in Waterbury, Vt.   (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

An announcement from Ben & Jerry's on Monday got a very frosty reception in Israel. The Vermont-based company said in a statement that it will no longer allow its ice cream to be sold in the "Occupied Palestinian Territory"—the West Bank and east Jerusalem—because the sales are "inconsistent with our values." The move was condemned by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who said the company has "decided to brand itself as the anti-Israel ice cream," the Hill reports. He described the decision as "morally wrong," adding, "There are many ice cream brands but only one Jewish state." The company said it is ending its relationship with a licensee that manufactures the ice cream in Israel and distributes in the region, but "we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement."

Some 700,000 Israeli settlers now live in the territories seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and since all major Israeli supermarkets, the main distribution channel for the ice cream, operate in the territories, it's not clear how the company could enforce a sales ban, the AP notes. The move from Ben & Jerry's, which was founded by Jewish Americans Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, followed pressure from pro-Palestinian activists who said allowing sales in the territories conflicted with the company's vocal support of social justice causes, reports the Washington Post. The company was criticized for not speaking out during the May conflict in Gaza, and its normally highly active Twitter account was silent for nearly two months before Monday's announcement. (Read more Ben & Jerry's stories.)

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