FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Organizations: Adalah Justice Project, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), Vermonters for Justice in Palestine, Palestine Legal, American Friends Service Committee, BDS Movement, Jewish Voice for Peace
WASHINGTON, DC, August 12, 2021—Recent statements by the board of Ben & Jerry’s have confirmed the company will not renew its licensing agreement in Israel when it expires at the end of 2022. This effectively means the licensee will not sell or manufacture Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel or its illegal settlements. The announcement made by parent company Unilever on July 19th about Ben & Jerry’s business operations in Israel caused some confusion.
According to Ben & Jerry’s independent board, the statement referencing continued business in Israel “through a different arrangement” was released without approval from the board. The company retains an independent board of directors with authority to make decisions regarding the brand’s social mission.
Israel treats its illegal settlements as part and parcel of the state and codifies this into law. Israel’s apartheid system is clearly reflected in the racist Nation State Law, which denies indigenous Palestinians their right to self-determination.
The reality is undeniable: Israel rules over the lives of all people living between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, and denies Palestinians their rights. Palestinians live under blockade, occupation, and apartheid. No company should profit off apartheid and settler-colonialism.
In the aftermath of Ben & Jerry’s decision, Israeli politicians and some U.S. officials are waging a new wave of legal and political warfare against the company to suppress the growing support for Palestinian freedom and to silence anyone who speaks out against Israeli injustice.
The Israeli government is mobilizing its propaganda and lobby power to trample on Americans’ constitutionally-protected rights because an ice cream company dared to take a courageous and principled step to end complicity in Israel’s occupation and human rights violations. The response by anti-Palestinian Zionist groups has been ruthless, including threats of violence and racist and misogynistic attacks against Ben & Jerry’s board Chair Anuradha Mittal.
The movement for Palestinian freedom knows this Israeli-led repression and bullying all too well; Palestinians and advocates for Palestinian rights have long faced censorship, persecution, and legal repercussions for advocating for Palestinian liberation.
Repression of the right to support Palestinian freedom is linked to larger attacks on dissent both in the U.S. and worldwide. In response to growing protest and civil disobedience—from the Black-led struggle against police violence and systemic racism to the indigenous fight for climate justice at Standing Rock and beyond—states across the U.S. are enacting new draconian anti-protest laws. Our movements have the right to protest, and we refuse to be silenced.
We must continue to uplift the Palestinian call for freedom, and to demand a world free of all oppression now.
- Express support for Ben & Jerry’s board decision, urge Unilever to publicly uphold and support the decision and Board Chair Mittal. Call on other companies to follow suit.
- Organize against the onslaught of unconstitutional federal and state bills curtailing First Amendment rights to protest and boycott. Contact your representatives to reject S. 2119 and connect with groups in your state here.
- Learn how to support or plug into existing BDS campaigns here.
- Support Palestinians on the ground who are being persecuted for protesting against Israel’s occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.