Ben & Jerry’s franchisees call for company to rescind Israel decision

Franchisees operating 30 stores across the country, generating $23.3 million in combined annual revenue, say the company’s stance on Israel has damaged their bottom line.

Ben+%26+Jerrys+Ice-Cream+Shop.+Credit%3A+Joshua+Small-Photographer%2FShutterstock.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice-Cream Shop. Credit: Joshua Small-Photographer/Shutterstock.

Aaron Bandler

(Jewish Journal via JNS) Several U.S. Ben & Jerry’s franchisees have sent a letter to the company calling on them to rescind their July 19 decision to stop doing business in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

The letter was signed by franchisees in Seattle, Boston, San Francisco and St. Louis, among other major cities, that operate 30 stores and generate $23.3 million in combined revenue.

“There is a danger that the pursuit of social justice will descend into political correctness or result in the adoption of overly simplistic solutions by people who share a single view of the world that misconstrue complex problems in which multiple claims of justice are implicated,” the letter states.

Its authors cite the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an example, arguing that there are “multiple and conflicting claims of justice made” with regard to the conflict, and that any proposed solution should address those claims.

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Moreover, the boycott decision comes with serious financial consequences, the letter continues.

“The decision that has been made to terminate the contract with Ben & Jerry’s licensee in Israel not only distorts the situation on the ground—it has imposed, and will continue to impose, substantial financial costs on all of us,” the letter states.

“More importantly, the controversy your recent actions have brought upon our local businesses has had an adverse effect on the value of our independently owned franchises and investments,” the franchisees state, adding that their respective families and communities “have shamed us personally for doing business not just with a company that draws controversy, but with one that continues to consider the calculated negative affect on its franchisees as acceptable collateral damage.”

They conclude the letter by stating: “Those who feel strongly about Israel that they want to boycott it or some part of the territory it administers are free to do so. They cannot, however, do that at our expense. We believe this decision needs to be re-examined and withdrawn.”

The American Jewish Committee lauded the letter, noting that they aided the franchisees in drafting it.

Jake Novak, the Broadcast Media Director for the Israeli Consulate General of New York, tweeted that the letter was “very, very important” because “franchisees often take their franchise owners to court over stuff like this. There are lawyers who specialize in these kinds of cases and win. This is a red flag for #Benandjerrys parent company.”

This is an edited version of an article that was first published by the Jewish Journal.

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