The chief legal officers of 12 states are urging Ben & Jerry’s to reverse its boycott of Israel in the disputed territories, calling the ice cream company’s move “economic warfare.”
New York City, New Jersey and Texas have announced the withdrawal hundreds in pension investments from Unilever, the parent company to Ben & Jerry’s.
The states have also enforced laws to stop the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement against Israel.
Meanwhile, a pro-Israel group, StandWithUS, has launched a $500,000 ad campaign against Unilver for engaging in BDS actions it calls “corporate antisemitism.”
“If Unilever is so interested in virtue-signaling, why not announce a boycott of countries like China, Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or especially Iran, who has promised the complete destruction of Israel?” said Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who coordinated the joint letter sent Monday to Unilever CEO Alan Jope that was co-signed by 11 other Republican state attorneys general.
“Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s should immediately reverse their boycott .”
In July Ben & Jerry’s said that it would not renew a licence to sell ice cream within disputed territories like the West Bank.
” We, the attorneys general of each state, are writing today to express our deep concern about Unilever’s decision to boycott the State of Israel. The attorneys general stated that Israel is not only one of our nation’s most trusted allies but also the only democracy in the region, and has been a force for stability and peace for a long time.”
The letter points out that 33 states passed anti-BDS statutes which “prohibit the investment of public pension funds and the awarding government procurement contracts to companies who boycott Israel .”
The chief legal officers also claimed that Unilever cannot absolve itself of responsibility, claiming that B&J is governed independently by a board that has the power to impose such a “radical act.”
” The assertion that the tailwags the multibillion-dollar corporate dog strains credulity,” according to the letter.
“As chief legal officers of the states, we are responsible for defending the laws of the state. We also consider it a high honour with the State of Israel to defend the laws of the State of Israel.
The letter concludes with: “In accordance with the fiduciary obligations of Unilever according to the laws of United States and the laws of individual states represented in this letter, we respectfully ask you to reconsider your decision by you and/or your subsidiary to boycott Israel .”
The letter was signed by the attorneys of Missouri, Alabama and Arizona, Arkansas. Florida, Indiana. Kansas. Mississippi. Oklahoma. Texas. Utah, West Virginia.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James had no immediate comment.
Unilever had no immediate comment. However, it argued that B&J’s limited boycott of the West Bank was not an Israeli boycott.
“Unilever is committed to Israel’s business. We employ nearly 2,000 people in the country across our four factories and head office, and we have invested approximately $250 million in the Israeli market over the last decade,” Jope said in a recent letter to New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.
Ben and Jerry were co-founders of Unilever. They sold their company in 2000. defended Unilever’s decision not to sell the region to Unilever in . In a July editorial, the New York Times stated that Israel was the first country that Unilever had expanded to as it grew.
The founders, who were called “proud Jews”, said that it was possible to support Israel but not some of its policies. They also opposed policies in the US government .”
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