After its Ben & Jerry’s brand announced that it would stop selling ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Prime Minister of Israel warned the CEO of Unilever of “serious consequences.”

The ultra-nationalist Naftali Bennett, who took office in June, called Unilever CEO Alan Jope on Tuesday, telling him that Unilever had taken “clearly anti-Israel steps.” “, will receive a “strong” response, including legal action.

This quarrel highlights the pitfalls of brands trying to satisfy polarizing political views. The problem is more prominent in Unilever, which agreed to give it unusual independence when it acquired the Ben & Jerry’s brand in 2000.

The cookie dough and phishing ice cream maker announced the change on Monday after years of pressure from activists, saying that sales in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were “inconsistent with our values” and when it reached a deal with local distributors. At that time, it will withdraw and expire in 2022.

The settlements on the territory occupied by the Jewish state in 1967 were considered illegal by most people in the world, but Bennett has always supported it.

Bennett said: “This decision is ethically wrong, and I believe it is clearly wrong in business.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Yair Lapid) is a centrist. He said that he will require US states that have passed legislation against anti-settlement boycotts, divestments, and sanctions to take legal action against Ben & Jerry’s because he “Shamelessly surrender to anti-Semitism.”

As Unilever has been criticized by the Israeli government, it is also fighting with its subsidiaries over the method and details of the announcement. Ben & Jerry’s has an independent board of directors whose role is reflected in the deal the British group made when it acquired the Vermont ice cream manufacturer more than two decades ago.

The board of directors stated that Unilever issued Ben & Jerry’s statement without its consent, “violating the spirit and text of the acquisition agreement.” Although the Ben & Jerry board correctly stated that Ben & Jerry intends to withdraw from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Ben & Jerry board complained that Unilever made clear mention of continuing to sell ice cream in Israel. A board member told NBC that no such decision was made.

Unilever said in a separate statement on Monday that it is “fully committed to our presence in Israel, where we have invested in our people, brands and businesses for decades.” It did not immediately respond to further questions.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, the company has been operating in Israel since 1938, when the area was still under British control and had four manufacturing bases there.

The consumer goods industry sees Ben & Jerry’s deal with Unilever as a groundbreaking example, the brand is known for its strong ethical stance, and it can maintain this focus even if it is sold to a multinational company. Its independent board of directors has the power to veto actions that may affect its social mission and trademarks and other “brand integrity” issues.

Ben & Jerry’s has been a strong supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and took action before Unilever last year to boycott advertising on Facebook to protest racism and hateful content.


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