Ben & Jerry’s Israel has filed suit against Unilever in the United States, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, claiming that the company’s move last year to ban the sale of its products in areas of the West Bank controlled by Israel was illegal.
In July 2021, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company announced that it would no longer extend licensing for its product to the Israeli company that holds the franchise in the country once its current contract expires. Actually, the move came only after the local Israeli firm which hold the Israel of Ben & Jerry’s franchising rights refused to accept the company’s demand that it ensure that their product not be made available for sale anywhere in the West Bank that is under Israeli control.
The decision by Ben & Jerry’s met with derision in the U.S. and a number of states there, such as New York and New Jersey, moved to divest their pension funds from Unilever’s stock. In December seven state treasurers from seven different states have called on Unilever to reverse its decision to boycott Israel. The states include Arizona, Idaho, Oklahoma, Nebraska, West Virginia, Louisiana and Mississippi. That is, they have signed on to a letter that was sent by StandWithUus, an organization that defends Israel from political attacks.
Will you offer us a hand? Every gift, regardless of size, fuels our future.
Your critical contribution enables us to maintain our independence from shareholders or wealthy owners, allowing us to keep up reporting without bias. It means we can continue to make Jewish Business News available to everyone.
You can support us for as little as $1 via PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avi Singer, CEO and owner of Ben & Jerry’s Israel, said in a statement, “The boycott of Israel has a heavy price and it is Unilever’s time to recalculate the route and allow Ben & Jerry’s Israel to continue selling ice cream in all parts of Israel.”
As for the lawsuit itself, it states that Ben & Jerry’s, “demand not to sell in parts of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria is against Israeli and American law.” It further asserts, “The demand was in and of itself a violation by [the] Defendants of Israel law, US anti-boycott policy and policies of the States of New Jersey, New York and many other states.”
“The only reason for non-renewal was Plaintiff’s refusal to carry out Defendants unlawful demand. A Party to a contract, especially the one with outsized bargaining power, cannot lawfully or in good with coerce the weaker party into violating the laws a condition of maintaining the contract.”
“Defendants are liable egos wrongful termination, for breach of the License Agreement, for breach of the implied covenant of good and with and fair dealing,” says the suit against Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s.