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JNS included B’nai B’rith International’s statement welcoming Unilever’s reversal of Ben & Jerry’s decision to cease business operations in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, in its coverage of Unilever’s big decision.

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The ice-cream battle between Ben & Jerry’s and its Israeli distributor may have been resolved, but the repercussions continue to reverberate in what many considered a considerable loss for the BDS movement.

On Wednesday, Unilever—the parent company of Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream maker—announced that it had agreed to sell the rights to manufacture and distribute the brand in Israel, as well as in Judea and Samaria (also known as the West Bank), to its Israeli licensee, Avi Zinger, owner of American Quality Products, Ltd.

The decision comes after an almost yearlong standoff between Ben & Jerry’s and nearly all parts of the pro-Israel community, which had protested the company’s announcement in July 2021 that it would not renew its license with Zinger because it could not support its product being sold in “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

The settlement also ends a lawsuit brought against Unilever by Zinger, which was filed on his behalf back in March by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

“Today, those who promote cooperation and coexistence vanquished those who endorse bigotry, discrimination and hate,” Alyza Lewin, president of the Brandeis Center and one of the lead attorneys in the case, said in a statement. “BDS tried to stop Ben & Jerry’s from being sold in Israel. They lost.”


‘Sends a definitive message’

Among the many groups celebrating the settlement between Unilever and Zinger was the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Jewish Federations of North America, StandWithUs, B’nai Brith International, Israeli-American Coalition for Action and the Zionist Organization of America.

“This is a victory against discrimination and for dialogue and inclusion,” wrote Conference of Presidents chair Dianne Lob, along with CEO William Daroff and vice chair Malcolm Hoenlein, in a release. “It shows that allowing the BDS movement to guide policy is not in the financial interest of corporations. We hope those considering boycotting Israel will follow the lead of Airbnb—and now Unilever—and reverse course.”

Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO JFNA, released a statement saying “there is no place for the BDS movement or any other form of anti-Semitism in the corporate sector.”

StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a release that Unilever’s decision is a “resounding defeat of BDS. This represents a victory for common sense and sends a message that discriminatory BDS campaigns will be vigorously fought through worldwide efforts against hatred towards the only Jewish state.”

B’nai B’rith International president Seth Riklin and CEO Daniel Mariaschin issued a joint statement welcoming the decision, saying that it “sends a definitive message against the anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist BDS movement.”

The Israeli-American Coalition for Action said in a news release that the decision “represents a major victory over the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic BDS movement that seeks to destroy the Jewish state. We thank the state governors and treasurers across the United States who have boldly enforced local laws against boycotting Israel, helping convince Unilever to reverse the Ben & Jerry’s board action targeting Israel.”

The Zionist Organization of America celebrated the people and organizations that came together to put pressure on Unilever over the past year, though said in a news release that it is unfortunate that Ben & Jerry’s in the United States is “continuing its anti-Semitic Israel-hating ways, including by reportedly requiring new employees to watch hostile-to-Israel video lectures by anti-Israel BDS leaders, as part of its employees’ training.”

Lewin, meanwhile, hopes this episode should be a lesson to other corporations who are being pressured by the BDS movement to stop doing business with Israel.

“I hope that other corporations will take a look at this and decide not to follow BDS. If we have to, we’ll try to deal with other corporations like we’ve dealt with this one,” she said. “It would be very nice if the impact of this case would deter other companies from following in Ben & Jerry’s footsteps.”

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