Ian Patrick, FISM News
In a statement given on Monday, the extremely progressive ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s said they will discontinue sales of their products in “Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).” OPT has previously been used to mean the entirety of the nation of Israel, and the company did announce that they will not renew a license with their Israeli distributor.
We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.
The company also mentioned that they will remain in Israel “through a different arrangement,” and to keep waiting for an announcement on what that will include.
Although Ben & Jerry’s has a storied history of promoting progressive ideals and policies – their website says that they “use ice cream to change the world” – this recent decision was due to pressure from a pro-Palestine organization known as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS). This organization, in their own words, “works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.”
A statement from BDS reveals that Ben & Jerry’s had been under “years of pressure from activists” to end its “complicity in Israel’s occupation and violations of Palestinian rights.”
Ben and Jerry’s, a leading socially responsible international company, is finally bringing its policy on Israel’s regime of oppression against Palestinians in line with its progressive positions on Black Lives Matter and other justice struggles. We hope Ben and Jerry’s has understood that, in harmony with its social justice commitments, there can be no business as usual with apartheid Israel.
Israeli officials rebuked Ben & Jerry’s as they continue to fight companies that reject the idea of Israel’s rightful sovereignty as a nation in their lands. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett aired his grievances on Twitter saying:
Ben & Jerry’s decided to brand itself as an anti-Israel ice cream. This is a morally wrong decision and I believe it will also turn out to be a business mistake. The boycott of Israel – a democracy surrounded by terrorist islands – reflects a complete loss of way. The boycott does not work and will not work and we will fight it with all our might.