Ben & Jerry’s Faces a Lawsuit after Demanding That an Israeli Producer Stop Selling Ice Cream in the West Bank

March 31, 2022 | Avi Zinger
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For years, the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS) has pressured the Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream company to end sales in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Ben & Jerry’s resisted the pressure until last May, when it insisted that Avi Zinger, who produces and distributes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream throughout Israel and Palestinian territories, stop providing ice cream to customers in certain areas. Zinger refused to comply, citing the principles at stake as well as a series of laws that he believes would be violated were he to cooperate with Ben & Jerry’s request. Earlier this month, he filed a lawsuit against his parent company.

I share the company’s commitment to social justice and have invested tremendous energy and personal resources in programs that foster coexistence and tolerance between Palestinians and Israelis. . . . For decades, Ben & Jerry’s Israel has supported these causes and more, including initiatives I developed like “Fruits of Peace”—a project to strengthen economic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians by developing ice-cream flavors using ingredients sourced from local Palestinian farmers. But the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which does not support coexistence, prevented us from moving forward on this program, which opened economic doors for Palestinians like no other.

For years, the BDS movement has been targeting Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Vermont, demanding the company end sales in what it calls the “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” But the primary consumers in those territories are Palestinians. In other words: BDS activists wanted Ben & Jerry’s to “help” Palestinians by depriving them of jobs (and ice cream).

I refuse to discriminate, and I strongly believe that boycotts are not the path to peace in the Middle East. But most significant of all: the Ben & Jerry’s directive is against the law.

Israel’s anti-discrimination law prohibits discriminating against individuals based on residence. The company’s directive also breaches Israel’s anti-boycott law; American anti-boycott laws and policies; the terms of my license agreement; and the terms of a consent decree that Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s’ parent company, signed as a condition of Israel’s approval of the Ben & Jerry’s-Unilever merger.

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