Ben & Jerry's Israel asks New Jersey court to halt settlement boycott

In the lawsuit filed on Thursday, attorney claimed that both Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever were in breach of contract of both Israeli and US law.

 An ice cream assembly line at the Ben & Jerry's factory near Kiryat Malachi, July 2021 (photo credit: FLASH90)
An ice cream assembly line at the Ben & Jerry's factory near Kiryat Malachi, July 2021
(photo credit: FLASH90)

Ben & Jerry's Israel has sought an injunction from a US District Court in New Jersey to stop its parent companies from boycotting Jewish territory over the pre-1967 lines and potentially the country itself.

The independent board of the global Ben & Jerry's, a subsidiary of the London-based Unilever, decided to end its contract with the Israeli franchise at the end of 2022. It did so after its owner Avi Zinger refused to halt ice cream sales to Jewish areas over the pre-1967 lines. The ice cream itself is produced in southern Israel. 

In the lawsuit filed on Thursday, attorneys Edward J. Dauber and Linda G. Harvey claimed that both Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever were in breach of contract of both Israeli and US law. On their client's behalf, they asked for relief damages of $75,000 in addition to punitive damages to be determined later.

The termination of Zinger’s contract after 34 years was solely due to their client’s refusal to comply with a demand that was illegal both under Israeli and US law, the attorneys wrote.

“The demand was in and of itself a violation by [the] Defendants of Israel law, US anti-boycott policy and policies of the States of New Jersey, New York and many other states,” the attorneys wrote.

Hallel Silverman and two other members of the Digitell visiting group stand on a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream truck, while CEO Avi Zinger gives the thumbs up. (credit: IDO DANIEL)Hallel Silverman and two other members of the Digitell visiting group stand on a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream truck, while CEO Avi Zinger gives the thumbs up. (credit: IDO DANIEL)

“The only reason for non-renewal was Plaintiff’s refusal to carry out Defendants unlawful demand.

“A Party to a contract, especially the one with outsized bargaining power, cannot lawfully or in good with coerce the weaker party into violating the laws a condition of maintaining the contract.

“Defendants are liable egos wrongful termination, for breach of the License Agreement, for breach of the implied covenant of good and with and fair dealing,” the attorneys wrote.