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Ben & Jerry’s board calls for ceasefire in Gaza

The statement did not mention Hamas or the hostages the terror group has held in Gaza since it invaded Israel on Oct. 7

(JTA) — The board of Ben & Jerry’s is calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, board chair Anuradha Mittal said Tuesday in a statement.

“Peace is a core value of Ben & Jerry’s,” Mittal said in a statement to the Financial Times on Tuesday. “From Iraq to Ukraine [Ben & Jerry’s] has consistently stood up for these principles. Today is no different as we call for peace and a permanent and immediate ceasefire.”

Mittal, who has previously advocated boycotting Israel, said the board’s ceasefire call was made independently of the company itself, which is owned by Unilever. But she said the statement was ““consistent with the history and values of our company.” The statement did not mention Hamas or the hostages the terror group has held in Gaza since it invaded Israel on Oct. 7, launching the war. 

The ceasefire call comes after Ben & Jerry’s announced in 2021 that it would no longer sell ice cream in what it termed “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” That announcement sparked heated debate and made Unilever subject to divestment in states across the country that prohibit public investment in companies that boycott Israel.

The following year, the saga ended when Unilever announced that it had sold the company’s rights in Israel to its Israeli licensee — allowing Ben & Jerry’s to remain on Israeli supermarket shelves.

Ben & Jerry’s board objected to that sale, and has waded back into debates over Israel by calling for a ceasefire. It said the statement was in alignment with its “primary responsibility for its social mission and essential brand integrity.” The company did not return the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s request for comment.

Israel rejects a ceasefire calls because it would leave Hamas in power despite its vows to repeat the Oct. 7 massacre, in which it killed some 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostage. More than 23,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, and nearly 200 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

Ben & Jerry’s joins a list of organizations and government bodies calling for a ceasefire in the war. In early December, the United Auto Workers Union became the largest union to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, joining the Postal Workers and other unions. Starbucks Workers United, the coffe chain’s union, posted a pro-Palestinian message early in the war, leading to calls to boycott the company. 

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed a resolution 8-3 last Tuesday calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Those who opposed said it did not do enough to condemn Hamas’ violence.

Last Monday, Americans for Peace Now became the first United States Zionist group to call for an end to the war in Gaza. Other prominent calls have come from the Vatican, the United Nations General Assembly, and various celebrities

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