Unlike McDonald's and Starbucks, Ben & Jerry's board calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire

Unlike McDonald's and Starbucks, Ben & Jerry's board calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire
Ben & Jerry’s has joined a small number of well-known companies to publicly back a ceasefire in Israel’s war on Gaza.
3 min read
17 January, 2024
Ben & Jerry's had previously taken a stance against sales in the occupied Palestinian territories [Getty]

The board of US ice cream firm Ben & Jerry’s has called for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, emphasising that "peace is a core value of the brand".

Speaking to the Financial Times, Ben & Jerry's board of directors chair Anuradha Mittal called for urgent action to be pursued, comparing the latest move to the company's stance on other global issues.

"From Iraq to Ukraine [the company] has consistently stood up for these principles. Today is no different as we call for peace and a permanent and immediate ceasefire," Mittal told FT.   

"It is stunning that millions are marching around the world but the corporate world has been silent."

Mittal, who is also a rights activist and runs the Oakland Institute policy think tank, has repeatedly advocated for the end of the devastating conflict that has killed over 24,000 Palestinians since 7 October. 

The board's move is consistent with its continued pro-Palestine moves, following its previous attempts to halt sales of Ben & Jerry's ice cream in the occupied West Bank. The move resulted in a clash with parent company Unilever.

The company board's call for a ceasefire in Gaza risks further tensions with Unilever, however Ben and Jerry’s has since issued a separate statement. 

"We are aware that the Ben & Jerry's Independent Board of Directors has released a statement in support of peace and a ceasefire in Gaza," a spokesperson said in a statement. 

"The statement is on behalf of the independent Board and the company has no additional comment at this time. Ben & Jerry's has a long history of supporting peace and peace building."

Meanwhile, companies like Starbucks and McDonald’s have been met with boycott calls over apparent links to Israel. 

Pro-Palestinian activists encouraged a boycott of various brands who were "profiting from the Genocide of the Palestinian people", according to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

McDonald's has seen a losses in Egypt, where sales decreased by 70 percent in October and November compared to the same period in 2022. 

The majority of McDonald's franchisees in the Middle East and North Africa published statements in solidarity with Palestinians at the onset of Israel's military campaign in Gaza, with many pledging to donate to those suffering in the enclave. McDonald's came under fire after branches in Israel provided Israeli soldiers fighting in Gaza with meals.

Starbucks has also indicated that sales have taken a hit, with videos posted online showing empty stores in London, Australia, Dubai and stores around the globe.