Boycott This: Israel Threatens Ben & Jerry’s with ‘Strong Action’
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s parent company that Israel will “take strong action against any boycott directed against its citizens.”
By United With Israel Staff
One day after Ben & Jerry’s announced a boycott under which it will refuse to sell ice cream to Jews in the Judea and Samaria regions of Israel, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned the ice cream maker’s parent company that Israel would take action.
The prime minister spoke with Alan Jope, the CEO of Unilever, a London-based multinational foods and consumer goods conglomerate that owns the Vermont-based ice cream business.
A statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office said Bennett “made it clear that he views with utmost gravity the decision by Ben & Jerry’s to boycott Israel and added that this is a subsidiary of Unilever, which has taken a clearly anti-Israel step.”
Prime Minister Bennett warned Jope the boycott will have “severe consequences, including legal, and it will take strong action against any boycott directed against its citizens.”
Meanwhile, Haaretz reported that Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. and UN, Gilad Erdan, has contacted the governors of 35 states with anti-BDS legislation asking them to implement those laws. These laws obligate states to divest themselves from companies that boycott Israel.
Unilever’s public service contracts to provide food and goods to public institutions in those states would come under significant legal scrutiny. Public pension plans would also be forced to divest themselves of any Unilever holdings.
In his letter to the governors, Amb. Erdan described the ice cream boycott as “the de-facto adoption of anti-Semitic practices and advancement of delegitimization of the Jewish state and the dehumanization of the Jewish people.”
Erdan also noted that the states’ legislation helped put an end to a previous boycott by Airbnb.
“As a response to the policy change announced by Airbnb in 2018, several lawsuits were filed against the company both in Israel and in the United States. These combined efforts were successful in getting Airbnb to reverse its discriminatory policy within a short period of time.”
Ben & Jerry’s was founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, both Jews. The partners sold the company to Unilever in 2000. They remain active ice cream purveyors but say they no longer have any authority.
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