Ben and Jerry’s has pulled its ice cream from “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” starting a Twitter feud with the prime minister of Israel. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took to Twitter saying that “this is an action that has severe consequences, including legal, and it will take strong action against any boycott directed against its citizens.”
Ben and Jerry’s says that it will continue to sell its ice cream in Israel but refuses to sell to the “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” because it goes against the company’s beliefs in social justice and doesn’t line up with its values. That specified territory consists of the West Bank of the country which includes East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
The company’s decision to remove itself from “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” is greatly supported by online Palestinian activists who have been pushing for the ice cream company to start the boycott. The move also goes with the progressive views of the company.
Ben and Jerry’s has been notorious for using its ice cream brand to bring awareness to social issues. The Ben and Jerry’s Instagram account is very vocal about a variety of issues, such as Black Lives Matter, climate change, and the prison industrial complex.
In 2000, the British foods company, Unilever, bought Ben and Jerry’s, and while it is still the parent company for the ice cream giant, it doesn’t seem to have a say in this boycott. Unilever made a deal with Ben and Jerry’s back in 2000 saying that the ice cream company was in charge of all social mission and policies.
In response to the boycott, Unilever made the following statement on Monday: “As a global company, Unilever’s brands are available in more than 190 countries, and in all of them, our priority is to serve consumers with essential products that contribute to their health, wellbeing, and enjoyment.”
The parent company continued, saying: “We remain fully committed to our presence in Israel, where we have invested in our people, brands, and business for several decades.”Unilever also added that they recognize the rights that Ben and Jerry’s has to make decisions when it comes to social issues.
Anuradha Mittal, who is the chair of the Ben and Jerry’s independent board, says that the company wanted to create a more in-depth statement regarding the situation in “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” but Unilever rushed its statement without the board’s permission. The two sides of the company are currently clashing over the decision.