Ben & Jerry’s today announced that it “will end sales of our ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”, in another major win for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
In a statement posted on its website, the company said: “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”
The decision will not take immediate effect, the company said, as it must honour existing contracts, however “we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.”
Ben & Jerry’s will continue to be sold in Israel.
The company has been the subject of the boycott campaign for years, after in 2011, Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel (VTJP) began a discussion with Ben & Jerry’s in South Burlington, Vermont, concerning their long-standing contractual relationship with an Israeli franchise that manufactures ice cream in Israel proper and sells it in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Since 2013, thousands of individuals and 239 organisations in 20 countries, including Israel, and from the District of Columbia and the occupied Palestinian territories, called on Ben & Jerry’s to honour its Social Mission by severing its franchise’s business with Israeli settlements.
The company clearly states on its website that it believes in “using our business to make the world a better place”, including through a commitment “to honoring the rights of all people to live with liberty, security, self-esteem, and freedom of expression and protest” and “achieving equity, opportunity, and justice for communities across the globe that have been historically marginalized.”
When Jeff Furman, chairperson of Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors, travelled to Occupied Palestine in 2012 with a group of American civil rights’ leaders. He described what he saw there as “apartheid”, however nothing changed in the company’s policy.