Woke Ben & Jerry’s Called Out for ‘Occupying’ Native Land in Vermont

Israeli students spoke out after the company’s political-legal action.

QUICK FACTS:
  • 1,000 Israeli students called out Ben & Jerry’s “hypocrisy,” accusing the company of “occupying” native land in Vermont.
  • The students, all of whom were involved in higher education and academics, sent a letter to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream calling out the ice cream seller’s hypocrisy for objecting to the sale of ice cream in Israeli West Bank settlements.
  • The students were part of a newly-launched ‘Students for Justice’ in America and claimed that Ben & Jerry’s was holding a double standard by taking their parent company, Unilever, to court.
  • “We have concluded that your company’s occupation of the Abenaki lands is illegal and we believe it is wholly inconsistent with the stated values that Ben & Jerry’s purports to maintain,” the letter, addressed to the chair of the ice cream maker’s board, Anuradha Mittal, reads. 
BEN & JERRY’S LAWSUIT AGAINST UNILEVER OVER ISRAELI SALES OF PRODUCTS:
  • Earlier in the week, Ben & Jerry’s took its parent company to federal court in New York for a hearing to request that a court force the multinational brand from allowing its goods to be franchised by Israeli licensee, Avi Zinger.
  • An investor who has been actively opposing the Ben & Jerry’s boycott, Michael Ashner, recently claimed that the company’s decision to stop selling ice cream in some areas of Israel constituted an “existential threat.”
  • “[We] saw it was an existential threat to Israel,” Ashner said. “If a multinational corporation can be pressured into divesting assets in the State of Israel, it’s the start of a slippery slope. We could not allow that to proceed.”
BACKGROUND:
  • The suit was announced almost a year after the company said they would stop the sale of ice cream in Jewish settlements in the West Bank because doing so would be “inconsistent” with company values.
  • Unilever reversed course on the original boycott and revealed a sale to Zinger. Legal sources cited in the Wall Street Journal said it is almost unheard of for Ben & Jerry’s to respond by suing Unilever as its subsidiary.