Ben & Jerry’s Founder: Unilever Violates Israel Sale Agreement | Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions

The socially conscious ice cream maker’s founders claim Unilever breached a 2000 agreement by selling its business to a local licensee.

The founders of Ben & Jerry’s said on Sunday that the famed ice cream maker’s parent company, Unilever, violated the merger between the two companies, after selling its Israeli business to a local licensee, avoiding restrictions on the sale socially responsible ice cream. company’s products in the occupied West Bank.

“This agreement gave authority over the social mission to Ben & Jerry’s independent Board of Directors. Unilever has usurped its authority and reversed the decision that was made and we cannot allow this to happen, we cannot sit idly by,” Ben Cohen said in a television interview on US media outlet MSNBC.

Cohen’s business partner, Jerry Greenfield, said the agreement, signed in 2000, is legally binding and must be adhered to.

Unilever, on the other hand, said it retained the right to make operational decisions for Ben & Jerry’s and the sale could not be canceled as it was irrevocably closed.

Ben & Jerry’s said earlier this month it planned to amend its lawsuit challenging Unilever’s sale of the Israeli company in federal court in New York. Unilever must respond by November 1.

In July 2021, the company, based in Burlington, Vermont, USA, announced that it would end sales in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, calling it “inconsistent” with progressive values ​​and the social mission that it reserved the right to promote.

“The company’s decision not to sell ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territories is consistent with the values ​​the company has held throughout its history – to fight for human rights and dignity,” Greenfield said.

The move, however, prompted a backlash against Unilever, including divestments by the consumer goods company’s pension funds and accusations of anti-Semitism by some Jewish groups.

The episode highlighted the challenges faced by mainstream brands that have supported progressive causes and also tried to take a stand on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, such as San Francisco-based Airbnb, which canceled in 2019 its decision to delist Israeli settlements in the occupied west. Bank, which are considered illegal under international law.

The international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) seeks to end international support for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and advocates for freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians, and for Israel to abide by international law.

Comments are closed.