Ben & Jerry’s announced Monday that it will end sales of its ice cream in “occupied Palestinian territory” due to “concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”
“Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement. We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready,” read a statement from the company. “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
The Vermont-based company has historically leaned left, politically, and shares a plethora of values with the progressive faction of the Democratic Party. The move delivers a boost of support to the Israel-targeted Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has exerted significant pressure on the company in past years.
The intersection between ice cream and politics is not always an obvious one. But during the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, the company’s Twitter account was bombarded with harsh criticism for maintaining a licensing factory, which supplies Ben & Jerry’s product to Israeli settlements.
The company was targeted before deciding not to sell in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in particular, by activist group Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine.
“Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy,” tweeted former Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to the company’s decisions.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid wrote: “Ben & Jerry’s decision is a shameful surrender to anti-Semitism, to BDS, to all that is evil in the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discourse. We will not be silenced by them.”
Ben & Jerry’s was found in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont, by entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield and sold in 2000 to British conglomerate Unilever.
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