Ben & Jerry's
Ben & Jerry'sYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who founded Ben & Jerry’s in 1978, on Wednesday published an op-ed in The New York Times in the wake of Unilever’s decision to suspend the sale of the ice cream in Judea and Samaria.

Cohen and Greenfield, who sold Ben & Jerry’s to Unilever in 2000, wrote in the op-ed that they are “proud Jews” and supporters of Israel but also added that “it’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the U.S. government.”

“As such, we unequivocally support the decision of the company to end business in the occupied territories, which the international community, including the United Nations, has deemed an illegal occupation,” they wrote.

“While we no longer have any operational control of the company we founded in 1978, we’re proud of its action and believe it is on the right side of history. In our view, ending the sales of ice cream in the occupied territories is one of the most important decisions the company has made in its 43-year history. It was especially brave of the company. Even though it undoubtedly knew that the response would be swift and powerful, Ben & Jerry’s took the step to align its business and operations with its progressive values,” they added.

“That we support the company’s decision is not a contradiction nor is it anti-Semitic. In fact, we believe this act can and should be seen as advancing the concepts of justice and human rights, core tenets of Judaism.”

“In its statement, the company drew a contrast between the democratic territory of Israel and the territories Israel occupies. The decision to halt sales outside Israel’s democratic borders is not a boycott of Israel. The Ben & Jerry’s statement did not endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” they stressed.

Unilever caused an uproar last week when it announced it would stop sales of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in what the company called the “Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

A number of supermarket chains have announced in response that they will no longer stock Ben & Jerry's products following the controversial decision. They include Glatt Express Supermarket, Seasons, Morton Williams Supermarkets, Gristede’s Supermarkets, and others.

In addition, several US states have taken action against Ben & Jerry’s. The Texas State Comptroller announced this past Thursday that the government is examining whether the Ben & Jerry's ice cream company violated the state's anti-BDS laws.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has called on the State Board of Administration (SBA) to immediately place Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever on the Continued Examination Companies that Boycott Israel List and initiate the process to place both companies on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List.

On Tuesday, Unilever CEO Alan Jope informed Anti-Defamation League (ADL) chairman Jonathan Greenblatt that his company does not support the BDS movement.

Jope wrote in a letter to Greenblatt that Unilever maintains a “strong and longstanding commitment to our business in Israel” and that the company “looks forward to investing in our business in Israel long into the future.”

Meanwhile, the chair of the board of Ben & Jerry’s, Anuradha Mittal, denied that the company’s decision to stop selling its ice cream in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria was anti-Semitic.

“I am proud of Ben & Jerry’s for taking a stance to end sale of its ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” tweeted Mittal.

“This action is not anti-Semitic. I am not anti-Semitic. The vile hate that has been thrown at me does [not] intimidate me. Pls work for peace – not hatred!” she added.