Ben & Jerry’s Retracts Deal With Israeli Compamy in Golan Heights

Thank you to everyone who responded to the ADC action alert protesting Ben& Jerry’s deal with an Israeli water company operating illegally in the Golan Heights. Good news: your efforts paid off!
In a letter dated today (Sept. 15, 1998), International Product Specialist Bram Kleppner announced that Ben & Jerry’s had canceled the deal. The letter stated that: “[W]e are advised that our licensee in Israel has switched water suppliers and is no longer purchasing water from the Golan Heights.”
The deal, signed last June, stipulated that Ben & Jerry’s Israeli licensee would only use mineral water from Mei Eden in Ben & Jerry sorbets.
“By going through with this agreement, you are essentially legitimizing Israeli violation of international law and illegal occupation of Arab land,” ADC told Ben & Jerry’s CEO Perry Odak in a letter dated Aug. 24 .
At first, Ben & Jerry’s distanced itself from the decision by explaining that it was made by its Israeli licensee, which it described as an “independent Israeli company” in a letter dated Aug. 31.
As protests continued while several progressive organizations, including ADC, New Yorkers for a Just Middle East Peace (NYJMEP), and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) considered calling for a boycott, Ben & Jerry’s reversed its stance.
Since Ben & Jerry’s first hit the Israeli market in 1989, it has grown from a factory and one scoop shop to 14 scoop shops and nationwide pint distribution. The company also has a market in the Arab world. For instance, it recently increased its imports into Lebanon, where its ice cream is advertised nationwide on television, radio and billboards. A Lebanese student activist group informed ADC that it was considering calling for a boycott throughout Lebanon if Ben & Jerry’s decided to go through with the deal.
Ben & Jerry’s is renowned in the progressive community for promoting social responsibility. A portion of its revenues is set aside each year to award grants to groups committed to advancing positive social change.
The efforts of everyone involved in addressing this matter led a prompt change of events and is proof that speaking out can make a difference.
Letters of thanks can be sent to:
Mr. Bram Kleppner
International Product Specialist
Ben & Jerry’s
30 Community Drive
South Burlington, VT 05403-6828
Tel: (802) 651-9600
E-mail: Info Mation
Please cc your letters to ADC
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
4201 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20008, U.S.A.
Tel: (202) 244-2990, Fax: (202) 244-3196
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