New York, NY, June 29, 2022 – In 2021, news erupted when a decision made by the once-beloved ice-cream brand, Ben and Jerry’s, resulted in the suspension of its sales in Israel and the West Bank. Although this move was disguised as one of moral or ethical principles, the decision to cease ice-cream sales in the Israeli market was a blatant undertaking within the antisemitic and hateful boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement. In the months following, many organizations, including the American Jewish Congress, have taken definitive stands to condemn Ben & Jerry’s evident patronage of hate. Now, it is apparent that our voices have been heard. Yesterday, Unilever, the parent company of Ben and Jerry’s, announced it has reached a new arrangement within Israel to ensure the ice cream stays available to all consumers.
The American Jewish Congress applauds Unilever, in conjunction with the owner of American Quality Products Ltd (AQP), the current Israel-based licensee, on their momentous decision to return to the Israeli market and their clear stance against their antisemitism.
As acts of violence and BDS continue to become more rampant by the day, Ben and Jerry’s decision to suspend their sales in the West Bank as a result of violent Israeli claims shed legitimacy onto this abhorrent practice. In response, Unilever’s release shining light on their announcement to resume sales, condemns BDS in its entirety. They highlight that “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.” In this case, actions speak louder than words – and we applaud Unilever for its strong decision to practice what they preach.
In Israel, Unilever employs roughly 2,000 hardworking individuals from diverse backgrounds, carries four manufacturing plants, and works with a broad network of regional suppliers and service providers – “helping to support the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Israelis across its value chain.” Undoubtedly, Unilever’s decision to remain invested in this market safeguards the livelihoods of many – and their actions should inspire other organizations to follow in their footsteps.
As Jews, we live with the undeniable reality that many on this earth disregard our right to call Israel our Jewish homeland. This, coupled with increased violence and hatred targeting Jewish Communities around the world, like BDS, proves that we must come together to eradicate these dangerous practices. With this decision by Unilever, however, we retract the garnered legitimacy that Ben and Jerry’s once brought to these hateful ideologies. However, there is much more to be done, and we must remain committed to ending these despicable and unjustified attacks on Israel and its citizens, once and for all.
With this decision, Unilever has taken a stand against antisemitism, has advocated for Israel and its consumers, and has proven that even the loudest rhetoric of hate will not be enough to bring our communities down. Other organizations must do the same when faced with similar perils, and the American Jewish Congress remains committed to supporting those efforts in any way we can.