Ben & Jerrys decision not to operate in the occupied territories caused controversy in Israel


by Ifi Reporter Category:Politics Jul 20, 2021

The Ben & Jerrys affair, the ice cream maker that announced Monday that it will not sell its products in the territories, caused a great deal of controversy throughout Israeli politics. However, the company's original decision was even more decisive. According to an NBC report, the intervention of Unilever, the giant corporation owned by Ben & Jerrys, softened the statement.
Yesterday, the company announced that it would stop selling ice cream in the occupied territories, and that it would not renew its franchise agreement, under which an Israeli company manufactured the ice cream at a factory in Beer Tuvia and sold it in Israel.
However, the company's announcement states that the products will continue to be sold in Israel under a new agreement, which has not yet been signed.
However, the last part of the announcement was not approved by the Ben & Jerrys board of directors. Under the Company's agreement with Unilever, any decision in principle regarding Ben & Jerrys products and their marketing is subject to the approval of the Board of Directors, and therefore in the announcement that they will continue to sell products under a new agreement, Unilever has in effect breached the agreement.
Following this, Ben & Jerry's Independent Board of Directors issued a response statement: "The announcement issued by Ben & Jerrys regarding its activities in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories does not reflect the position of the Independent Board of Directors, nor has it been approved by it. "The approval of the Board of Directors on a matter directly related to Ben & Jerry's social mission and the integrity of the brand, Unilever and its CEO at Ben & Jerry's violated the spirit and wording of the purchase agreement." -NBC: "They are trying to destroy the soul of the company. We want to lead the company and promote values ‚Äč‚Äčthat will not be dictated by the parent company."
Unilever, which owns the Thelma, Vered Hagalil, Click and Bagel bagel brands, has manufacturing plants in Israel and employs thousands of workers. The parent company issued a separate statement stating that it "remains fully committed to our presence in Israel, where we have invested in our employees, brands and businesses for decades." Her attempt to thwart a move that would appear like a boycott of Israel now seems extremely clumsy: the political reactions treated the announcement as a boycott - and this was probably the original intention of the Ben & Jerrys executives.
The move may add pressure on other companies to boycott Israel. Pillsbury, the dough maker, has come under sharp criticism from one of the founders' descendants, Charlie Pillsbury. In April, he wrote an article in the Star Tribune Minneapolis in which he called for a boycott of Pillsbury because the owner of the company, General Mills, has a manufacturing plant in East Jerusalem. "General Mills continues to profit from the displacement and suffering of the Palestinian people, so we will not buy its products," he wrote.
It seems that behind the scenes, the Ben & Jerrys board has wanted to stop selling ice cream in the territories for years. Accordingly, he prepared a statement with no mention of continued sales in Israel. According to the chairman, the board of directors has the authority to pass such a decision. Unilever, contrary to the wishes of the ice cream maker's board, according to Mittal, the publication of the announcement verbally violates an agreement Unilever signed when it acquired Ben & Jerrys in 2000. Mittal also claimed that "this is what happens when there is a board of women and non-white people trying to promote the right thing. ".
The acquisition agreement between Unilever and Ben & Jerry's in 2000 gave the ice cream company's board exceptional independence in advancing its social goals, brand integrity and policies. Any change to the product, franchise agreements, markets and social mission statement should be approved by Ben & Jerry's Board of Directors. "This is an agreement that has been handcuffed by CEO and Unilever," said Mittal, who explained that this is how the small company managed to defend its independence, even though it was acquired by a huge corporation.
Vermont is the home state of Ben & Jerry's. The name of the company is under pressure from a campaign that has been going on for a decade, led by the pro-Palestinian association Justice in Palestine. The organization claims that selling ice cream in the settlements contradicts the company's progressive values. Last spring we organized other activist groups, including Decolonize Burlington (Burlington is the most populous city in Vermont), an international boycott of Ben & Jerry's, due to its ties to Israel. On May 19, during Operation Wall Guard and the exchange of fire between Hamas in Gaza and Israel, the group's activists posted such a call to Instagram to the public.



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