New York Post
PHISH ‘FAUX’ED BID
Org plans to make fake Ben & Jerry’s for West Bank
A nonprofit group says it plans to knock off Ben & Jerry’s in Israel’s West Bank — and it’s itching to go to court if the ice cream maker tries to stop it.
The Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center in Tel Aviv has applied to distribute Ben & Jerry’s frozen desserts in the West Bank under the name “Judea and Samaria’s Ben & Jerry’s” — arguing that the Vermont-based company forfeited its trademark rights when it said it would be freezing sales in “the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
If the application is approved, the group would sell iconic Ben & Jerry’s flavors like Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia in the region.
In a July 23 letter to the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, the Law Center said that it registered a trademark for Judea and Samaria’s Ben & Jerry’s with Israel’s Justice Ministry.
“We will now become the lawful owners of the Ben & Jerry’s name in Judea and Samaria,” said the letter, referring to the historical Hebrew names for areas of the West Bank, where Ben & Jerry’s plans to stop doing business.
A ruling on whether Judea and Samaria’s Ben & Jerry’s is legal could come down in a matter of weeks, according to Shurat HaDin’s president and the letter’s author,
Leitner says her organization is in discussions with several manufacturers to produce a copycat Ben & Jerry’s product — down to the look of the packaging.
“They are highly successful and we will copy them,” she said. Unilever didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
The legal group would welcome a challenge by Ben & Jerry’s to its trademark plans. In 2019, it sued Airbnb in Delaware court after the home-sharing business said it would remove listings of properties located in the West Bank. Airbnb reversed its decision as a result of the suit, which claimed the company was discriminating against hosts and guests based on religion.
Leitner’s goal in the ice cream case, she told The Post, is to force Unilever to defend its trademark in court. She wants the conglomerate, which bought Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, to explain “why they do business in (other) occupied territories and they don’t want to do business in Israel.” She pointed to Crimea and South Sudan as examples.
“This step we’ve taken forces their hand,” she said. “I don’t think they thought this out very carefully.”
Ben & Jerry’s announcement to pull out of areas occupied by Israel since 1967 — namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip — sparked a firestorm that continues to burn hot.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett earlier this week warned British-based Unilever that its actions would have “severe consequences.” Israel’s ambassador to the US, Gilad Erdan, wrote a letter to governors of 35 US states asking them to condemn Ben & Jerry’s decision.
Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma has called for a ban on all Ben & Jerry’s sales in his state.
Several supermarkets have also taken a stand on the issue, including the Big Apple’s Morton Williams, which is reducing its Ben & Jerry’s inventory by 70 percent in the wake of the announcement.