Ben & Jerry’s will be sold in Israel and the West Bank under the Hebrew and Arabic names agreed to by Unilever. A US judge has denied Ben & Jerry’s request to halt a deal struck by Unilever that allows its ice cream to be sold in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Unilever reversed Ben & Jerry’s decision to halt such sales in June, instead agreeing to transfer its Israeli business to the local licensee.
The ice cream company’s board of directors argued that its social mission could be jeopardised. However, the judge ruled that the company had not demonstrated irreparable harm.
Ben & Jerry’s has a history of political activism, and when it was purchased by Unilever, a UK-based consumer goods conglomerate, in 2000, it was allowed to retain an independent board to oversee its social mission.
Last year, the ice cream company announced that it would cease sales “in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)” because they were “incompatible with our values.”
Approximately 600,000 Jews live in approximately 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The majority of the international community believes the settlements are illegal under international law, though Israel disagrees.
Palestinian activists behind the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement applauded Ben & Jerry’s decision, which calls for a total boycott of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. However, Israeli politicians reacted angrily, with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid describing it as a “disgraceful capitulation” to anti-Semitism and BDS.
Unilever announced the sale of Ben & Jerry’s business interests in Israel to local licensee Avi Zinger in late June. Mr Zinger added that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream would be sold under Hebrew and Arabic names rather than English names.
Lapid, who is now Israel’s interim prime minister, hailed the decision as a victory “against discrimination and hatred.”
However, Ben & Jerry’s board of directors stated that it “does not agree” with its parent company and requested an injunction. During a hearing earlier this month in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, lawyers for the board said the deal violated the terms of the 2000 takeover and could allow Mr Zinger to make ice cream with names that contradicted its social stances.
Unilever stated that the transaction could not be stopped because it had already closed.
District Judge Andrew Carter ruled on Monday that the Ben & Jerry’s board had “failed to demonstrate” that it would suffer irreparable harm and dismissed the board’s argument that customers might be confused as “too speculative.”
(Adapted from TheNaitonalNews.com)