‘Important Moral Victory’: Israel Welcomes End of Ben & Jerry’s Boycott on Israel

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Photo by Eitan Elhadaz/TPS on 19 July, 2021
By Aryeh Savir/TPS • 29 June, 2022

Jerusalem, 29 June, 2022 (TPS) — Israel welcomed the announcement by Unilever Global that Ben & Jerry’s in Israel will continue to sell its ice cream “without discrimination,” and congratulated Avi Zinger, the owner of Ben & Jerry’s in Israel, for “the deal he has reached.”

Unilever announced Wednesday that it has reached a new business arrangement for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel as has sold its Ben & Jerry’s business interests in Israel to Avi Zinger, the owner of American Quality Products Ltd and the current Israel-based licensee. The new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel, including Judea and Samaria, under the full ownership of its current licensee.

In July of 2021, the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company announced that it would not extend licensing for its product to the Israeli company that holds the franchise in Israel. The decision came after the Israeli company refused Ben & Jerry’s demand that it end any sales of its products in any Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, and even in parts of Jerusalem.

Unilever now said that it “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.”

The food giant again rejected “completely and repudiates unequivocally any form of discrimination or intolerance. Anti-Semitism 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.”

The Foreign Ministry stated that “this decision not only ensures that the Ben & Jerry’s factory and its diverse workforce, will be protected, but that its customers both Jewish and Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian, will not be targeted by the de-legitimization campaign against Israel.”

“Israel appreciates the constructive and respectful manner in which Unilever worked to resolve this issue, and the very strong stand the company has taken against anti-Semitism and the BDS agenda,” it added.

The Ministry crowned the development as “an important moral victory against the discrimination and anti-Semitism that lies at the heart of the BDS campaign.”

Israel expressed its “deep appreciation” to the many people, including US Governors and elected officials at the State and Federal levels in the US and elsewhere who enacted anti-BDS laws against Unilever, civil society organizations, and “ordinary citizens, across the political spectrum, who stood up against the illegitimate attempt to boycott Israel.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Jewish communities have been waging a struggle against Unilever Global, and have managed to trigger the anti-boycott laws against Unilever which led to the withdrawal of investments, holdings and pension funds, including from the state of New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Texas, Colorado, and Arizona.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke in the last few days with Zinger and with Unilever CEO Alan Jope.

“Anti-Semitism will not defeat us, not even when it comes to ice cream. We will fight delegitimization and the BDS campaign in every arena, whether in the public square, in the economic sphere, or in the moral realm,” declared Lapid.

“The Ben & Jerry’s factory in Israel is a microcosm of the diversity of Israeli society. Today’s victory is a victory for all those who know that the struggle against BDS is, first and foremost, a struggle for partnership and dialogue, and against discrimination and hate,” he said, thanking Unilever for “the action they have taken to resolve this matter.”

Avi Zinger, owner of Ben & Jerry’s Israel, said that he was very happy with the announcement after what he described as a battle that lasted for months.

“We succeeded in securing our future producing and selling Ben & Jerry’s ice cream that is loved by all our clients, without discrimination, across all of Israel and in Judea and Samaria,” he declraed.

Zinger went on to thank Unilever for “their willingness to find a solution and for the staunch position against the BDS movement.

“It was a long and complex battle,” he added, “that crossed borders and sectors of the population. This is a significant victory for us and for all who believe in cooperation and co-existence and a brilliant defeat for those who stand for discrimination and boycott.”

Unilever was on the Simon Wiesenthal Center Global Anti-Semitism Top Ten list for 2021. From the outset, the SWC labeled the boycott “a purely political act.”

It was pushed forward by its activist board Chairwoman, Anuradha Mittal, who has a track record of endorsing the BDS movement and defending Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist groups.

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