Ben & Jerry’s has reversed its position on a boycott of the Israel-occupied territories in the Middle East, ending a policy that had drawn a great deal of controversy for parent company Unilever.
An ice-cream brand known for social activism, Ben & Jerry’s had announced almost a year ago that it would no longer sell ice cream in the West Bank or other Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The announcement was met with an immediate backlash and a lawsuit from the brand’s Israeli distributor.
On June 28, Unilever released a statement calling off the ban on sales in the OPT. That statement announced the sale of the Ben & Jerry’s business in Israel to Avi Zinger, the distributor who had sued over the ban. Unilever said it took its action after “extensive consultation over several months, including with the Israeli Government.”
“Antisemitism has no place in any society,” the announcement says. “We have never expressed any support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement and have no intention of changing that position.” The latter is a reference to a movement that encourages businesses to shun Israel on political and moral grounds.