StandWithUs & IAC For Action Call Upon Unilever to Use its Authority to Reverse Ben & Jerry's Boycott of Israel
(Los Angeles -- October 15, 2021) -- StandWithUs and the Israeli-American Coalition For Action sent a letter today to Unilever CEO Alan Jope and the Board of Directors regarding its subsidiary company, Ben & Jerry’s, which is planning to cut ties with its factory in Israel—resulting in a boycott of the entire State of Israel. The letter expresses the clear expectation that Unilever will be transparent in acknowledging the reality that it has the authority to overturn this decision and that it will now do so.
In July, 2021, Ben & Jerry’s released a statement that it would cease to sell ice cream in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem in 2023 while remaining in Israel "through a different arrangement." However, this statement was reportedly written by Unilever and adopted by Unilever as its own, without approval from Ben & Jerry's independent board. Ben & Jerry's Board Chair Anuradha Mittal has described the official Ben & Jerry's and Unilever statement as a form of “deceit.” She has also explicitly promoted boycotts targeting all of Israel and implied Israel’s existence is a “catastrophe.” Furthermore, Israeli law does not allow a company to sell to certain Israelis while boycotting others based on where they live. As such, if Ben & Jerry's and Unilever do not change course, they will be engaging in a boycott of Israel as a whole.
Unilever claimed it has no authority to override this discriminatory decision, pointing to its acquisition agreement with Ben & Jerry’s. While this agreement gave Ben & Jerry’s board power to make decisions consistent with the social mission of Ben & Jerry’s, it is a red herring in this case. The authority of the board is limited to commercially reasonable decisions.
As the StandWithUs/IAC letter points out, neither Unilever nor Ben & Jerry’s has explained how boycotting Israel is commercially reasonable. This is because the boycott decision has, in fact, proven to be commercially unreasonable. Numerous states and consumer groups have initiated their own boycotts of Unilever, and multiple states have begun the process of divesting state funds previously invested in Unilever.
We sincerely hope that Unilever will reverse its prior position and take the necessary steps to ensure that Ben & Jerry’s does not undertake its planned boycott, which aligns both companies with a campaign of hate aimed at ending Israel's existence.
StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism. Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization has programs on five continents with chapters and offices throughout the U.S., in Israel, the UK, Canada and Brazil. For the last nine years, SWU has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator (4 stars) and Guidestar (Platinum).
ABOUT THE ISRAELI-AMERICAN COALITION FOR ACTION
We are a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to strengthening the Israel-American relaitonship and making the voices of Israeli-Americans heard by policymakers on a range of issues at the federal, state and local level.