Ben and Jerry's calls for 'immediate' ceasefire in Gaza

Chairwoman says peace is a core value of the company and admonishes the corporate world for its silence

Ice cream maker Ben and Jerry's made a rare corporate statement about Israel and the US in relation to Gaza. AFP
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The chairwoman of ice cream company Ben and Jerry's this week called for a "permanent and immediate ceasefire" in Gaza, in a rare corporate statement against the US and Israeli establishments.

"Peace is a core value of Ben and Jerry’s," the company’s chairwoman, Anuradha Mittal, told the Financial Times.

"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."

Health authorities in Gaza say more than 24,400 people have been killed in Israel's military operations in the enclave. The war started after the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel that resulted in 1,200 deaths.

Other companies globally have faced boycotts or been accused of supporting Israel.

Starbucks faced criticism when it took legal action against a employee union after it expressed solidarity with Palestinians.

A Starbucks spokesman referred The National to a company statement that says “Starbucks stands for humanity”.

"We do not use our profits to fund any government or military operations anywhere – and never have,” the statement reads.

McDonald's received backlash when an Israeli franchise claimed it had given meals to Israeli soldiers.

The corporation later said in a statement that "actions from our local development licensee business partners were made independently without McDonald's consent or approval".

The company added that McDonald's does not support or fund "any governments involved in this conflict".

Ms Mittal is aware that a call for a ceasefire brings economic and political risk.

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

Ms Mittal asserted that her remarks had the support of the board and fitted in with the company's mission.

The comments are also expected to possibly frustrate Unilever, the parent company of Ben and Jerry's, after years of conflict over the ice cream maker's position on Israel and its policies on Palestinians.

In 2021, Ben and Jerry's moved to pull its products in occupied Palestinian territories, and Unilever chose to sell its Israeli arm to a local licencee.

Ben and Jerry's brought a lawsuit against Unilever, which was resolved in late 2022.

This is a corrected version of an earlier story that erroneously said Starbucks supported Israel.

Updated: January 18, 2024, 8:52 PM