Here is how you or your organization can support this effort:-> Publicly endorse the boycott and let us know that you did so. Send a pro-boycott e-mail to Matthew McCarthy, Ben & Jerry’s CEO.
This was the second year's protest at this event in Finland in June 2018 (that draws 70,000-80,000 people). After the 2017 event the protesters tried without success to talk with Ben & Jerry's about ice cream sales in the settlements. So they demonstrated again this year. Ben & Jerry's was one of the most visible sponsors of the event and for one hour they were handing out free ice cream. People demonstrated at their stand during this time. Subsequently the company suggested a phone call with their European Social Mission Strategy Manager and some of their US people. Their position was they don't know how much of the Israeli licensee's business in the settlements, which is very small, and anyway countered by the good they are doing in the region by contributing to various projects and buying from Palestinian farmers.The protest was organized by The Left Youth of Finland and by ICAHD Finland - The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions who provided the photos.
In April, and again in May 2018, VTJP wrote to the executive management team of Unilever in the Netherlands. Ben & Jerry's is a subsidiary of Unilever, a British-Dutch conglomerate which bought the Vermont company in 2001.
The first letter urged the company "to intervene immediately and decisively, as Ben & Jerry's parent company, to put a stop to your U.S. subsidiary's commerce conducted by its Israeli franchise in Israel's illegal, Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem."
The letter charted the history of Ben & Jerry's complicity with Israel's occupation and settlement regime, in violation of international law, and VTJP's efforts to put an end to it since 2011. It also noted the allegation VTJP made in 2014, based on information from Israeli activists, that Ben & Jerry's franchise in Israel purchases equipment from an illegal settlement in the occupied Golan Heights of Syria.
Unilever did not respond to the letter, but, directed, we believe, Jostein Solheim to do so. He is Ben & Jerry's CEO in South Burlington, Vermont. Mr. Solheim sent VTJP a letter dated May 4th 2018. It spun Ben & Jerry's complicity with Israel's military occupation and settlements as a form of "economic cooperation" and "engagement" designed to "resolve conflicts," promote "social equity," and help "marginalized peoples." It also attempted to justify the company's commerce in occupied Palestine on the basis of protocols signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1994 (which are part of the failed and discredited Oslo Accords.)
Once again, Mr. Solheim did not make a single reference to the occupation or Israel's settlements - an omission more striking than normal given that it came during the period of massive protests in Gaza (The Great March of Return) and the slaughter and maiming of nonviolent protesters by Israeli snipers.
VTJP rebutted Solheim's points in its second letter to Unilever in May, and expressed again its desire to engage Unilever directly. We have yet to receive a response to the second letter (July 2018).
Update - In December 2017 these containers of Ben & Jerry's ice cream were photographed by an Israeli citizen at the Shufersal Store at Moshe Dayan Street in the illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev.
Note that this Shufersal store displays a map of their store locations that show Palestine and Israel as all one country.
We commend Ben & Jerry's for taking the brave step of aligning the company with the Black Lives Matter movement in a statement posted October 6th 2016. But the company continues to miss opportunities to take specific actions to show that it respects the lives of Palestinian refugees and Palestinians living under occupation.
Many activists in the 'Black Lives Matter' movement identify their struggle with the struggle for human rights of Palestinians who are denied basic freedoms by the Israeli occupation (When I see them I see us). Ben & Jerry's statement says "we have a moral obligation to take a stand now for justice and for Black lives." And yet by failing to speak out against the occupation they have shown little interest in justice for Palestinians. The company continues to sell ice cream in illegal Jewish-only settlements and to send ice cream treats to Israeli soldiers of the occupation forces.
Ben & Jerry's statement says "All lives do matter. But all lives will not matter until Black lives matter." As the Black Lives Matter movement has made perfectly clear, all lives include oppressed Palestinians as well as oppressed people of color in the US.
The statement continues: "We’ve come to understand that to be silent about the violence and threats to the lives and well-being of Black people is to be complicit in that violence and those threats." That's what we’ve been saying to Ben & Jerry's for 4 years now - that to be silent about the occupation of Palestine, which daily humiliates and brutalizes 4 million Palestinians, is to be complicit in the crimes committed by Israel's government and occupation forces.
Ben & Jerry's could take immediate constructive steps by speaking out against the occupation and by stopping sales of their ice cream in the settlements. But Palestinians' lives apparently do not matter enough.
The British organization Embrace the Middle East has sold its holdings in Unilever, because its subsidiary, Ben & Jerry's, markets and sells ice cream in Israeli settlements. This according to Jeremy Moodey in an article titled "UK anti-boycott rules: 5 reasons why they are undemocratic and wrong" in the publication "Christian Today". Ben & Jerry's and Unilever should both take note.
In an article in the Guardian newspaper, Unilever CEO Paul Polman was quoted as saying "There are many people now that don’t want to invest in companies that create a worse future for their grandchildren."
Unilever is an Anglo-Dutch multinational consumer goods company co-headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and London, UK.
This latest statement is a clear case of "misdirection" It deflects attention from the company’s "values-based" social mission and from of what is really going on in Occupied Palestine. It also confirms our decision to organize a boycott of the company.