Ben & Jerry’s leadership is calling for a “permanent and immediate ceasefire” in Gaza, with its board of directors chair decrying that the “corporate world has been silent” about the conflict.
Ben & Jerry’s board chair Anuradha Mittal on Tuesday told the Financial Times that the ice cream maker’s call for peace in Gaza is “consistent with the company’s history and values.” The interview marks one of the few instances when a U.S. company has publicly supported an end to the Israel-Hamas war, the FT noted.
“From Iraq to Ukraine [the company] has consistently stood up for these principles,” Mittal told the publication. “Today is no different as we call for peace and a permanent and immediate ceasefire.”
Mittal is also the founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute, an advocacy group focused on human rights, environmental conservation policies and other issues.
Ben & Jerry’s call for a halt to fighting in Gaza marks a rare instance of a name brand explicitly supporting an to end Israel’s military activities in Gaza. Companies including Starbucks and McDonald’s have reluctantly made statements on the conflict after facing intense public backlash and boycotts for their perceived stances.
Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of openly taking progressive stances on social and political issues, a habit that helped define the Vermont-based brand in its early years. But that activism has also occasionally cause conflict with corporate parent Unilever, which bought Ben & Jerry’s in 2000.
In 2022, Ben & Jerry’s sued Unilever for selling its business in Israel and the country’s contest West Bank region to a local licensee, arguing that the sale was at odds to Unilever’s promise to end sales of its products in the region in 2021 as a show of support for the Palestinian cause.
The disagreement culminated in Unilever freezing the salaries of Ben & Jerry’s boardmembers as a “pressure tactic” to force the company to acquiesce to the Israeli ice cream deal, Reuters reported.
Unilever did not immediately reply to CBS MoneyWatch’s request for comment.
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