Ben & Jerry’s founder: Unilever violating deal over Israel sale
According to the founders of the socially conscious ice cream manufacturer, Unilever violated a 2000 agreement when it sold its business to a local license.
On Sunday, Ben & Jerry’s founders stated that Unilever, the renowned ice cream maker, had broken the merger agreement between the companies. Unilever sold its Israeli business to a local licensee. This allowed Unilever to avoid restrictions on the sale and distribution of the company’s socially responsible products in the occupied West Bank.
“That agreement gave the social mission authority to the independent Ben & Jerry’s board. Unilever has overstepped its authority and reversed the decision. We can’t let that happen.
Jerry Greenfield, Cohen’s business partner said that the 2000 agreement is legally binding and must be complied with.
Unilever, however, stated that it retains the right to make operational decisions at Ben & Jerry’s and that the sale cannot be reversed because it has irrevocably closed.
Ben & Jerry’s announced earlier this month that they plan to amend their lawsuit against Unilever’s sale in New York of the Israeli business. Unilever must reply by November 1.
The company, which is based in Burlington in Vermont, USA, announced in July 2021 that it would cease sales to the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory. He called it “inconsistent with the progressive values he reserved the right to promote.”
Greenfield stated that the company’s decision not to sell ice cream in occupied Palestinian territory is consistent with the values it has held throughout its history, which include fighting for dignity and human rights.
However, Unilever was retaliated against, with pension funds deciding to divest from the company’s consumer goods business and some Jewish groups accusing Unilever of anti-Semitism.
This episode highlighted the difficulties facing consumer brands who have supported progressive causes. It also attempted to take a stand against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. For example, San Francisco-based Airbnb reversed its decision in 2019 to delist Israeli settlements within the occupied West Bank. These settlements are illegal under international law.
International boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), seek to end international support of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. It also advocates for equality, freedom, justice, and equality for Palestinians and for Israel to follow international law.
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