Ben & Jerry’s fails to block the return of its ice cream to Israeli settlements

Ben & Jerry’s fails to block the return of its ice cream to Israeli settlements

The company had decided in July 2021 to stop distributing its frozen products in these areas.

The brand’s licensee in Israel, Avi Zinger, violated the guidelines by continuing to distribute Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the settlements. RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS

The American group Ben & Jerry’s, which had taken the unusual decision to file a complaint against its parent company Unilever to block an operation paving the way for the official resumption of the sale of its ice cream in the Israeli colonies in the Palestinian Territories, saw its request dismissed on Monday. The company has “failed to demonstrate” that the transaction would cause it “irreparable harm”, according to the decision of a New York judge consulted by AFP.
She had decided in July 2021 to stop distributing her ice cream products in the areas in question, believing that it was not “compatible” with her “values”. But the holder of the brand’s license in Israel, Avi Zinger, had contravened these directives by continuing to distribute in the colonies Ben & Jerry’s ice cream produced by its factory in the suburbs of Tel Aviv.

And Unilever announced in late June that it had ceded its “business interests in Israel” to Avi Zinger, paving the way for the brand to officially resume sales in those areas. Also Ben & Jerry’s, arguing that such an operation threatened “the integrity of the brand” and its “social integrity”, had asked on July 5 that any agreement allowing the distribution or sale of its products in the West Bank be dissolved. and that any transaction going in this direction be submitted in the future to the green light of its board of directors.
But it is “too speculative” to determine in advance that the new owners of the brand in Israel could promote its ice cream with messages “contradicting” those of its creators, the judge said. And the possibility of customers being “confused” by Ben & Jerry’s positions is “reduced,” he adds.

Founded in 1978, Ben & Jerry’s is a company known for its progressive commitments, from environmental protection to respect for human rights or the issue of inequality. When it was taken over by Unilever in 2000, it had expressly reserved the right to preserve its “integrity” with an independent board of directors. Contacted Monday by AFP, Ben & Jerry’s declined to comment immediately on the judge’s decision. Unilever did not respond to a solicitation from the agency.

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