Huge BDS Fail as Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s Israeli Franchisee Reach Agreement

And just like that, BDS’ tastiest victory was ripped from their fingertips.

Unilever today announced it has reached a new arrangement for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel which will ensure the ice cream stays available to all consumer

The company has sold its Ben & Jerry’s business interests in Israel to Avi Zinger, the owner of American Quality Products Ltd (AQP), the current Israel-based licensee. The new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank under the full ownership of its current licensee.

Under the terms of Unilever’s acquisition agreement of Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, Ben & Jerry’s and its independent Board were granted rights to take decisions about its social mission, but Unilever reserved primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions and therefore has the right to enter this arrangement.

The new business arrangement follows a Unilever review of Ben & Jerry’s in Israel after the brand and its independent Board announced last year its decision to discontinue sales of its ice cream in the West Bank.

Unilever 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.

Unilever rejects completely and repudiates unequivocally any form of discrimination or intolerance. Antisemitism 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.

Unilever is very proud of our business in Israel which supplies everyday household products to people across the country. Today, Unilever Israel employs around 2,000 people of diverse backgrounds, has four local manufacturing plants, and works with a network of around 2,000 local suppliers and service providers – helping to support the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Israelis across its value chain.

Over the last decade, Unilever has invested more than 1 billion Shekels (around €250 million) in our business in Israel. We look forward to continuing to make a positive contribution to Israel’s economy and society for many decades to come, and hope that Israelis and Palestinians can reach a peaceful resolution of their conflict.

This isn’t just a repudiation of the decision made by Ben & Jerry’s last year to end sales in the so-called “occupied territories”, but of BDS, which Unilever clearly intimates is antisemitic. It is also clear to me from “the new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names” that they understand the Ben & Jerry’s decision was going to hurt palestinian Arabs as well as Israelis.

The cherry (Garcia) on top?

The review included extensive consultation over several months, including with the Israeli Government.

The Ben & Jerry’s Twitter account is strangely silent on this new announcement. Go figure.

This has to hurt the haters more than a bad case of brain freeze.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media