Ben & Jerry's Unfreezes Its Business Dispute In Israel

"We're Ben and Jerry. Men of Ice Cream, Men of Principle," reads the headline of a July 2021 New York Times op-ed from the founders of ice cream company Ben & Jerry's. The pair wrote that while they no longer have "operational control" of their stores, they defend their independent board's decision to terminate business on territory that Israel has occupied since 1967, deemed illegal by the United Nations. "In our view, ending the sales of ice cream in the occupied territories is one of the most important decisions the company has made in its 43-year history," reads the op-ed, which was published amid devastating attacks on the Israel-Palestine border after an Israeli police raid of Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque (via The Washington Post).

Many Israeli Ben & Jerry's fans were upset when the ice cream brand moved out of reach, but their anger was assuaged this week when its parent company, Unilever, decided to resume operations in the West Bank (via CNBC). Though the same feeling of satisfaction can't be said for Ben & Jerry's founders or its independent board.

One dispute settled, another begotten

Overruling the stance of Ben & Jerry's founders and board, Unilever announced on Wednesday that it has sold the ice cream company's Israeli operations to Avi Zinger, owner of American Quality Products (AQP). Unilever said the ice cream brand would not receive any licensing income from the sale of Ben & Jerry's products (per The Guardian).

Zinger told CNBC that he couldn't be happier about taking over the Israeli arm of the ice cream maker. Meanwhile, Ben & Jerry's took to Twitter to condemn the decision. "We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry's values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory," the brand wrote on Wednesday. "Our company will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry's in Israel," reads a follow-up tweet.

Its parent company and new Israeli operator notwithstanding, the brand continues to champion the global "boycott, divest and sanction" (BDS) campaign, which discourages customers from supporting businesses on the West Bank (per CNBC). In response to Ben & Jerry's decision last year, some U.S. customers boycotted Ben & Jerry's and several conservative states divested from Unilever in solidarity with Israel.