Photo Credit: Ayman Odeh's Twitter
MK Ayman Odeh with his cup of Ben & Jerry's, July 19, 2021

Ben & Jerry’s will be in a NY court on Monday asking to block its parent company Unilever from selling the Vermont ice cream’s Israeli franchise. Last week, talks broke down between Ben & Jerry and Unilever who were trying to resolve their dispute over allowing the Israeli franchise holder since the mid-1980s, Avi Zinger, to purchase his franchise permanently, which allows him to sell the B&J products in Jewish Judea and Samaria.

Unilever is a British multinational consumer goods company that acquired Ben & Jerry’s in 2000. In an attempt to preserve Ben & Jerry’s longstanding “Social Mission,” Unilever’s acquisition of Ben & Jerry’s included allowed it to have an independent board of directors, which was given primary responsibility for preserving and enhancing the objectives of the company’s Social Mission

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Enter Anuradha Mittal, founder of the Oakland Institute, a progressive think tank, and head of the board of directors of Ben & Jerry’s, who announced: “If Unilever is willing to so blatantly violate the agreement that has governed the parties’ conduct for over two decades, then we believe it won’t stop with this issue.” She explained that “if left unaddressed, Unilever’s actions will undermine our social mission and the essential integrity of the brand, which threatens our reputation, and ultimately, our business as a whole.”

In July 2021, Ben & Jerry under Mittal’s directorship announced it would stop selling ice cream in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

The announcement created a problem for Unilever, whose business interests were starting to get seriously hurt in US states where boycotting Israel is grounds for a company’s ban from their pension funds and other investments. Unilever came under heavy pressure from those states, Israel, and American and international investors, all demanding that it reverse its subsidiary’s decision. Last June, Unilever announced it would sell its Ben & Jerry’s business in Israel to Zinger who could sell his ice cream wherever he wanted.

Ben & Jerry’s apparently did not feel the same way.

In early July, Mittal announced Ben & Jerry was filing a lawsuit against its parent company, demanding that Unilever recognize its “violation of the letter and the spirit of our original Merger Agreement.”

The mediation between the two companies collapsed in mid-July.

For the goods on Mittal, go to Anuradha Mittal Who Spearheaded Ben & Jerry’s Boycott on Israeli Settlements Accused of Fiduciary Deceit.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.