Unilever feels the heat as Israeli politicians melt down over ...

World

Unilever feels the heat as Israeli politicians melt down over ice cream

Not even Joe Biden’s love for the sweet summer treat will help Ben & Jerry’s case

Zev Chafets

Tel Aviv is a secular and self-confident metropolis. So the news last week that ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s was boycotting sales in East Jerusalem and the West Bank – territories it says should not be occupied by Israel — was a source of mild amusement. Jokes circulated mocking Ben & Jerry’s sanctimony and the over-the-top reaction of the Israeli government.

Many patriotic Israelis agree that the occupation, now in its 54th year, should end. But few want to take moral instruction from Ben & Jerry’s. In terms of impact, the main meltdown seems to be the backlash against its owner, Unilever, which just announced a drop in first half net profits amid rising costs (its stock fell more than 7%  last week and is down more than 4% in the past month.)

While Unilever is the parent, its purchase agreement gave Ben & Jerry’s an unusual degree of autonomy. Now its ice cream subsidiary seems to have handed an unexpected bonanza to Israeli and pro-Israel US politicians, while delivering a major commercial and legal headache to its owner...

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