Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Ben & Jerry's Israel

Israeli soldiers share Ben & Jerry's ice cream inside the company's factory store in Be'er Tuvia, Israel on July 21, 2021. (Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images)

Rights Groups Urge Ben & Jerry's to End All Sales in 'Apartheid Israel'

"Ben & Jerry's must now fully commit to standing on the right side of history by completely ending its complicity in Israel's separate-and-unequal apartheid regime."

Brett Wilkins

While welcoming the decision by Ben & Jerry's to stop selling their ice cream in the criminally occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in Palestine, a coalition of progressive groups on Wednesday implored Unilever, the frozen dessert-maker's parent company, to end all business with Israel.

"For Ben & Jerry's to fully commit to justice, there must be no scoops left behind under apartheid. Until there are none, we are not done."
—Ahmad Abuznaid, U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights

Three groups—Adalah Justice Project, the Movement for Black Lives, and U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights—issued a joint statement calling the company's decision "a significant partial victory and step forward, signaling a massive, hard-fought narrative shift toward Palestinian liberation in the U.S.," and proof that "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) tactics work."

However, the groups added that "the unwavering fight for justice isn't over... until Ben & Jerry's ends all business with apartheid Israel."

"The Israeli state can't be separated from its apartheid and military occupation," the statement asserted. "Ben & Jerry's must now fully commit to standing on the right side of history by completely ending its complicity in Israel's separate-and-unequal apartheid regime."

On Monday, Ben & Jerry's published a statement explaining that the company believes "it is inconsistent with our values" for its "ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory," but that it would "stay in Israel through a different arrangement."

The decision infuriated many Israelis and supporters of the country, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett vowing to "act aggressively" against the company and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid calling the decision a "shameful surrender to antisemitism, to BDS, and to all that is wrong with the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discourse."

Lapid and Gilad Erdan, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations and United States, also said they would pressure the 35 U.S. states that have outlawed or criminalized boycotts of Israel to take legal action against Ben & Jerry's.

Meanwhile, as progressive Jewish-led organizations praised the company's decision, politicians, pundits, and other observers in both Israel and the United States leveled predictable accusations of antisemitism, Nazi collaboration, and self-hatred against Ben & Jerry's and its Jewish founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. 

Sandra Tamari, executive director of Adalah Justice Project, said in a statement that Ben & Jerry's decision "may be our most important BDS win to date."

"It opens the door for other mainstream companies to heed the Palestinian call for cutting ties with the Israeli state," said Tamari. "The over-the-top response by Israeli leaders to the company's announcement, including threats to compel U.S. states to apply unconstitutional state laws limiting boycotts against Israel, shows that immaterial victories such as these can make a vast empire tremble, and that is the power of organizing."

Montague Simmons, director of strategic partnerships for Movement for Black Lives, said that his organization "supports and defends the unobstructed freedom and self-determination of the Palestinian people."

Simmons continued:

Black and Palestinian organizers have long worked hand-in-hand to eradicate repressive regimes and policies in both Palestine and the United States. Ben & Jerry's withdrawing sales on Occupied Palestinian Territory is a step in that direction, yet insufficient.

We believe it is important to acknowledge that the small attempts at fixes don't override the bigger context of apartheid, settler colonialism, and military occupation. We continue to demand an end to human rights abuses, settler colonialism, and U.S. investments in the occupation of Palestine and the apartheid state.

U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights executive director Ahmad Abuznaid said that "for Ben & Jerry's to fully commit to justice, there must be no scoops left behind under apartheid. Until there are none, we are not done."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

The move comes after Democratic leadership in the House blocked an amendment to roll back limits on how much money people in the United States can send to family on the island nation.

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressives Issue Dire Warning as House Bill to Extend Eviction Moratorium Dies

"If Congress does not act now, the fallout of the eviction crisis will undoubtedly set us backwards as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravish our communities, needlessly contributing to more death and destruction."

Brett Wilkins ·


Citing Donziger Case, Dems Raise Alarm About Use of Private Prosecutors in Federal Court

Private prosecutions of criminal contempt charges, said a pair of senators, "are highly unusual and can raise concerning questions of fundamental fairness in our criminal justice system."

Jessica Corbett ·


'About Damn Time': DOJ Says Treasury Department Must Give Trump's Tax Returns to Congress

"This case is now bigger even than Donald Trump's crimes. Neither the courts, nor the machinery of our government, exist to bodyguard a corrupt private citizen from transparency."

Jake Johnson ·


'Just Say That the Election Was Corrupt,' Trump Told DOJ in December

"It was a failed coup. Call it what it was. It didn't work! But they sure as hell tried."

Kenny Stancil ·