In what continues to be a communal and legal embarrassment, Ben & Jerry’s antisemitic push to stop selling its ice cream in Judea and Samaria continues to cause “Eskimo brain freeze,” i.e., a sudden headache, for all those who used to love Chubby Hubby, Cherry Garcia or New York Super Fudge Chunk.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield sold their popular Vermont-based ice cream brand to Unilever in 2000, yet maintained the right to its “social mission.” Much of their social missions in the past have focused on supporting communal recycling programs and domestic political campaigns like antiracism, LGBTQ issues, women’s reproductive rights and pluralistic environmental justice projects. But last summer, when they announced they would no longer continue the brand’s 35-year relationship with its Israeli distributor, they waded into the Israel-Palestine debate without any thought as to the legal repercussions to its parent company, or the laws that have been codified in recent years against companies that practice the skewed, double standard, antisemitic policies associated with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Last week’s news, which we reported as our top story, stated that Unilever had wrested control from Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont and outright sold the distributor rights in Israel to Avi Zinger, who has managed Jewish and Arab employees beautifully in his factories and distributorship over the last three decades. The Unilever sale to Zinger, according to Reuters, is a “done deal.”
What happened next was a minor celebration by friends of Israel who previously loved Ben & Jerry’s … But our social media feeds didn’t even have a chance to get filled with people posting their spoons poised above Ben & Jerry’s cups and pints before the company took to Twitter objecting to the decision. They followed up their objection this week with a lawsuit of their own, suing Unilever in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan to block the sale. Reuters reported that, according to Ben & Jerry’s representatives, the sale “threatened to undermine the integrity of the Ben & Jerry’s brand.” The company requested that the judge order an injunction against transferring the business and products to Zinger to “protect the brand and social integrity Ben & Jerry’s has spent decades building,” according to the complaint.
While at press time we have no idea if the lawsuit has merit or if the injunction will be granted, we want to remind our readers of Ben & Jerry’s corporate tweet of June 29, 2022. “We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
We hope our readers hear our message that it is inconsistent with The Jewish Link’s values to buy any Ben & Jerry’s products anywhere in the world, except in Israel, if—and only if—those products remain under the ownership of Avi Zinger.