Ben & Jerry's Boycott Lawsuit Victory
The short-lived, fractious BDS-driven boycott is now over thanks to the efforts of Avi Zinger, the Louis D. Brandeis Center and co-counsel, and broad Jewish community support.
British multinational Unilever has sold its Ben & Jerry's ice cream business in Israel to Avi Zinger, according to a company statement, for an as yet unknown amount.
The sweet treat, says Unilever, will continue to be available in Israel and the so-called West Bank under its Hebrew and Arabic monikers for an undisclosed amount, and under the ownership of licensee American Quality Products Ltd.
The sale came after the Ben & Jerry’s brand and independent board decided in 2021 to ban sales of its ice cream in areas of Israel dubbed as Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, sparking outrage and concern in Israel and the U.S.
Unilever released a statement today regarding the sale:
Unilever today announced it has reached a new arrangement for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel which will ensure the ice cream stays available to all consumers.
The company has sold its Ben & Jerry’s business interests in Israel to Avi Zinger, the owner of American Quality Products Ltd (AQP), the current Israel-based licensee. The new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic name throughout Israel and the West Bank under the full ownership of its current licensee.
Under the terms of Unilever’s acquisition agreement of Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, Ben & Jerry’s and its independent Board were granted rights to take decisions about its social mission, but Unilever reserved primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions and therefore has the right to enter this arrangement.
The new business arrangement follows a Unilever review for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel after the brand and its independent Board announced last year its decision to discontinue sales of its ice cream in the West Bank.
Unilever has 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. We have never expressed any support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement and have no intention of changing that position.
Unilever is very proud of our business in Israel which supplies everyday household products to people across the country. Today, Unilever Israel employs around 2,000 people of diverse backgrounds, has 4 local manufacturing plants, and works with a network of around 2,000 local suppliers and service providers – helping to support the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Israelis across its value chain.
Over the last decade, we have invested more than 1bn Shekels (around €250 million) in our business in Israel. We look forward to continuing to make a positive contribution to Israel’s economy and society for many decades to come, and hope that Israelis and Palestinians can reach a peaceful resolution of their conflict.