Jerusalem24 – A lawsuit filed by Ben & Jerry’s to stop its ice cream being sold in illegal Israeli settlements has failed.
US District Judge Andrew Carter in Manhattan ruled last Monday that Ben & Jerry’s did not deserve an injunction to halt ice cream sales and marketing because it failed to show it would suffer “irreparable harm” or that customers would be confused about its branding and social values.
The world-renowned ice cream company filed a lawsuit against parent company Unilever on 5 July following the latter’s announcement it had sold its Israeli Ben & Jerry’s branch to local licensee Avi Zinger, and after out-of-court dispute settlement talks between the two parties broke down.
The sale to Avi Zinger went against the July 2021 decision of Ben & Jerry’s independent board to stop selling its ice cream in illegal Israeli settlements.
Unilever under fire from both Israel and Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s made headlines in July last year when the company announced its ice cream would no longer be sold in Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine after its current license agreement expired at the end of 2022.
A statement on its website announcing the boycott explained that the company, which is known for promoting ethical causes, considered it was “inconsistent with our values for our product to be present within an internationally recognised illegal occupation.”
The announcement triggered immediate and vehement backlash from Israel and its supporters, with the Israeli government forming a special task force to pressure Unilever to reverse their decision, and then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennet personally warning Unilever CEO Alan Jope of “serious repercussions, legal and otherwise.”
On 29 June, Unilever announced they had sold Ben & Jerry’s Israel branch, after engaging in “extensive consultations over several months, including with the Israeli Government.”
Ben and Jerry’s distanced themselves from Unilever’s decision at the time, saying on Twitter: “While our parent company has taken this decision, we do not agree with it.”
One week later on 5 July, Ben & Jerry’s announced they had filed the lawsuit against Unilever.
From “Chunky Monkey” to “Judea and Samaria”
Avi Zinger, owner of American Quality Products Ltd, which is now free to continue selling Ben & Jerry’s products under their Hebrew and Arabic name across occupied Palestine, is reportedly considering changing the name of its “Chunky Money” flavor to “Judea and Samaria” – the Israeli name for the occupied West Bank.
Zinger has sought to distance himself from the original ice cream company, telling Haaretz he was “deeply offended” by Ben & Jerry’s “behavior.”
“Ben & Jerry’s is mine forever, plus I can make whatever flavor I want, collaborate with whichever Israeli company I want,” he told Haaretz during the interview in July. “The deal also states I can receive from them the knowhow, formulas and option to purchase raw materials from their suppliers – if I want.”
Jerusalem24 tried to access the Hebrew website on the day of publication of this article, however the site could not be reached.