The rest of Israel can still get their Cherry Garcia, though.
As one of the biggest ice cream brands in the world, Ben & Jerry’s has taken a vocal stance on several heavyweight political issues in the past, including the prison industrial complex, the legality of marijuana, police brutality against communities of color, and more. Now, in 2021, the iconic ice cream company has made it clear where they stand on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Ben & Jerry's ice cream sales in West Bank and East Jerusalem will stop cold, and people all over the internet have a lot to say.
In a July 19 statement, the company announced it would stop selling its ice cream in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas occupied by Israel since their capture in 1967. “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” company representatives stated in the announcement. The international community widely views Israeli settlement of these areas to be illegal. “We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners,” the Ben and Jerry’s statement said, noting how the company has “a longstanding partnership with our licensee,” who manufactures and distributes the ice cream in Israeli-controlled territory.
Per the announcement, Ben & Jerry’s will not renew their license agreement when it expires at the end of 2022. However, the company added that it will stay in Israel through a different arrangement, although the arrangement was not specified in the initial announcement. “We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready,” representatives added.
While Ben & Jerry’s statement didn’t address any specific calls to action or concerns, there has been a growing movement in support of Palestinian rights in recent years. Advocates have called on nations, individuals, and companies to support Palestine via “boycott, divest, and sanction” (BDS), which aims to remove economic and political support for the Israeli state as a means to pressure it into ending oppression of Palestinians.
The Israeli-Palestine conflict is one of the world’s most divisive and controversial, with two self-determination movements at its heart: the Jewish Zionist project, which asserts the Jewish right to a homeland in the region, and the Palestinian nationalist project, which is focused on achieving Palestinian statehood and liberation in the West Bank and Gaza. Both movements claim territory rights over the region along the Eastern Mediterranean, now known as Israel-Palestine. Israel and surrounding Arab nations fought several wars over the land, with two of the most decisive being the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 and the Six-Day War of 1967. As of 2021, efforts to find a permanent solution have been largely unsuccessful.
The long-standing conflict is further complicated by violence, questions of colonialization versus the right to a cultural homeland, and international diplomacy, not to mention all the standard troubles of political conflict. In the spring of 2021, after years of quiet between the two movements, conflict was reignited, leading to weeks of violence.
After Ben & Jerry’s announced their stance, people all over the internet took to Twitter to announce theirs — some showed their support, and others further criticized the brand for supposedly making the announcement as a method to quell backlash.
Ben & Jerry’s is no stranger to being in the spotlight for political controversy. In the past, the company has released several unapologetic statements on the reality of systemic racism in the United States, the abuses of the U.S. prison industrial complex against Black people, and the role white supremacy played in the May 2020 murder of George Floyd. “The murder of George Floyd was the result of inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy,” states an announcement on their site. “It was the predictable consequence of a racist and prejudiced system and culture that has treated Black bodies as the enemy from the beginning.”
So when it comes to heavyweight political topics, it’s clear Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t shy away — even if that means putting people’s lives over their own profits.