November 12, 2021
Photo: lev radin / Shutterstock.com
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, told Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, that the state will divest from it in 90 days, The Forward reported on November 12.
The Forward obtained a letter from Hochul to Unilever CEO Alan Jope stating that Ben & Jerry’s July announcement that they will cease operating in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory” violates state law prohibiting boycotts of Israel. Unilever will have 90 days to respond to prove that neither they, nor any of the companies under their purview, have engaged in a boycott against the Jewish State.
Hochul’s letter comes after New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced on October 28 that the state will be divesting its $110 million in Unilever holdings, arguing that Ben & Jerry’s Israel decision amounted to “activities” related to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Jewish groups praised Hochul.
“Kudos to @GovKathyHochul for sending clear message to @Unilever: End @benandjerrys #antiSemitic, anti-Israel, anti-peace boycott or face divestment,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center tweeted.
StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein said in a statement, “We thank Gov. Hochul and [New York State] for taking this next step against the antisemitic and discriminatory decision of Ben & Jerry and Unilever. We continue to call upon Unilever and Ben & Jerry to reverse their decision to boycott Israel.”
Jope has argued in letters to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others that Unilever does not support the BDS movement and that Ben & Jerry’s will remain in Israel with a new licensee. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt responded by saying he’s “heartened” that Unilever doesn’t support BDS but the ADL still thinks Unilever should urge Ben & Jerry’s to change course. William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Major Jewish American Organizations, argued that Unilever should overrule Ben & Jerry’s Israel decision; StandWithUs and the Israeli American Coalition for Action have also made such an argument.
New York will be joining Arizona, New Jersey and Florida as states enforcing their anti-BDS laws against Unilever.
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