The Kof-K kosher certification agency may not renew Ben & Jerry’s certificate if the Well-known American ice cream company continues in its decision to end sales in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“We have told Ben & Jerry’s that we do not know if we will be able to renew our contract,” Rabbi Daniel Senter, chief operating officer of the American-based Kof-K that provides Kosher international certification, told Israeli The Jerusalem Post.
At issue is whether Ben & Jerry’s in the US will continue to receive a kosher certification once the Kof-K’s contract with the Vermont-based ice cream company ends in 2022.
The Kof-K can only break this contract if there is a violation of the Jewish dietary laws, and no such violation has occurred, Senter explained.
“The company is living up to its side of the contract,” he stated.
The Kof-K, however, is weighing whether to refuse to renew the contract due to the decision made in July by Ben & Jerry’s to end sales in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“Our concern is Ben & Jerry’s [pending] action of withdrawing distribution of products in Judea and Samaria,” Senter said.
“We are hopeful that Ben & Jerry’s will reverse their decision and that there will be some sort of resolution.”
The Kof-K has spoken to Ben & Jerry’s about its concerns, Senter said.
He said that the Kof-K would have to take a number of steps prior to any final action, including a decision by its rabbinic board. It would also consult with other regulatory companies that certify kosher food.
Senter said his company also feels it has a social mission, but in this case it is a Jewish one.
“Our entire business is the Jewish community,” Senter said. The best interest of the Kof-K, in this case, “reflects what is in the best interest of Israel and the Jewish community.”
The Well-known American firm announced in July that it will no longer sell its products for settlements in the West Bank and the eastern part of Jerusalem.
The firm, known for its progressive activities, has been silent on social media since last May, when ‘Israel’ were bombarding the besieged Gaza strip, killing over 250 Palestinians, most of them were children and women.
The company said in a statement on its website “it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).”
Israel’s Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan said he sent letters to the governors of the 35 American states that have anti-BDS laws, asking them to act against Ben & Jerry’s decision.
“I urged them to act against Ben & Jerry’s decision to not sell its products in the eastern part of Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria. We will make clear to Ben & Jerry’s that its antisemitic decision will have consequences,” Erdan said.
In September, Arizona became the first state to pull the trigger on divesting from conglomerate Unilever and its subsidiary, Ben & Jerry’s, in response to its decision.
Texas has officially added Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever to a list of companies that boycott Israel, a further step on the path to the state divesting some $100 million from the companies.
New York’s $268 billion state pension fund became the latest to restrict its holdings from Unilever and its subsidiary; the New York State Common Retirement Fund has total Unilever equity of $111 million.
Florida said it has began divesting from conglomerate Unilever, and the move took effect last month.
New Jersey has announced that it is on the path to follow suit, while Illinois, Maryland, and Rhode Island have launched formal proceedings.