Engelwood Cliffs, NJ
January 6, 2022
StandWithUs (SWU), an international nonprofit that educates about Israel and fights antisemitism, launched a campaign using a truck that circles Unilever US headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey with messages denouncing Unilever’s lack of action in reversing its subsidiary Ben & Jerry's decision to boycott Israel. The truck will be visible from January 3 through January 14.
Directed at Unilever and its shareholders and subsidiaries, three separate panels - one on each side of the truck including the back - have messages including: "Unilever, Don't Let Ben & Jerry's Antisemitism Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth;" "Unilever, Don't let Antisemitism Melt Your Brand" and "Don't Let Ben and Jerry’s Antisemitism Melt Your Profits." One ad has a container of B&J ice cream that says "Double Standard" fudge. Each ad asks viewers to learn more at: corporatehate.com. The site, created by StandWithUs, explains what corporate antisemitism is and how Unilever is perpetuating it. The site contains educational information about companies that discriminate against Israel and the Jewish people, and provides tools to empower grassroots resistance to its spread.
On July 19, 2021, Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would terminate its sales to Israeli-controlled territories, including eastern Jerusalem and Judaism’s holiest sites, including the Western Wall. By ordering its licensee to boycott sales to Israelis in certain parts of Israel, Ben & Jerry's knowingly demanded its licensee to violate Israeli anti-discrimination law, which prohibits its companies from refusing to sell to any Israelis, of any religion, based on their area of residence. Therefore, the boycott of any part of Israel becomes a boycott of all of Israel.
Unilever claimed it has no authority to override this discriminatory decision, pointing to its acquisition agreement with Ben & Jerry’s, which gave B&J’s board power to make decisions consistent with the social mission of the subsidiary. However, SWU's legal department examined the contracts and found that the authority of the B&J board is limited to "commercially reasonable decisions." It is clear that Unilever has the authority to overturn the irresponsible decision made by Ben and Jerry’s. SWU and Israeli American Council (IAC) for Action sent a letter to Unilever CEO Alan Jope and the Board with this information urging Unilever to reverse this action.
US states, including New York, New Jersey, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Illinois have already divested their pension funds from Unilever and other states are in the process of investigating their business relationships with Unilever. The attorneys general of twelve states and the treasurers of seven states have written to Unilever to demand clarification about the corporation's misrepresentations of its relationship to Ben & Jerry's and its authority to override the discriminatory decision. A bipartisan group of U.S. representatives sent a joint letter to the SEC requesting that the regulatory filings of Unilever be amended to disclose the material risk factors the corporation may incur as a result of the discrepancies in its statements about its ability to reverse the Ben & Jerry's decision.
Roz Rothstein, CEO and co-founder of StandWithUs stated, "Unilever is clearly misrepresenting its ability to reverse the decision to boycott Israel which they can do at any time. Corporations hold immense power to shape public opinion and cultural norms, and it is crucial to hold them accountable when they promote or enable antisemitism. The truck campaign and website are part of a larger public education effort by SWU which also includes direct mail and digital advertising. We hope that reason prevails, and Unilever takes a clear look at the consequences of its inaction and reverses their decision to stand with Ben and Jerry’s boycott against only Israel. Ben and Jerry's is still selling ice cream in some of the world's most oppressive human rights abusing countries, and this boycott of Israel represents a clear double standard and collective punishment against Israelis."
StandWithUs 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., Israel, the UK, Canada, and Brazil. For the last ten years, StandWithUs has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator (4 stars) and GuideStar (Platinum).