New Lawsuit Says No Ben & Jerry’s for Israel

We all scream for ice cream, but the country of Israel may soon be screaming even louder. According to news sources, Ben & Jerry’s is suing its parent company amid the sale of its Israel business to a local licensee in the Jewish state, effectively circumventing the ice cream maker’s boycott of the country.

On June 28, the parent company, Unilever, sold Ben & Jerry’s Israel business to operator American Quality Products (AQP) for an undisclosed sum in order to “ensure the ice cream stays available to all consumers.” Since last summer, Ben & Jerry’s has sought to end sales of its products in what the United Nations refers to as Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the West Bank.

The latest suit, filed Tuesday in a Manhattan court, states the sale was not approved by Ben & Jerry’s independent board of directors. According to the filing, the company said it is seeking “to protect the brand and social integrity Ben & Jerry’s has spent decades building,” its suit says. CNBC reported that a judge had already denied Ben & Jerry’s application for a temporary restraining order, but still ordered Unilever to show cause by Thursday, July 14 for why a preliminary injunction against the sale should not be issued. 

In a statement, Unilever said “the deal has already closed” and that it would not comment on pending litigation. A Ben & Jerry’s representative did not respond to a request for comment.

Ben & Jerry’s said, “We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” 

The Israeli government also issued a statement following last week’s sale announcement.

“The anti-Semites won’t defeat us,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said. “Even when it comes to ice cream. We will fight efforts to delegitimize Israel and the boycott movement in all its forms, whether it be economic, cultural, or philosophical.”

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