“Today I was proud to lead a 12 state coalition in calling on Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s to reverse their ill-advised boycott of the State of Israel. Israel is a strong ally of the United States and remains the only democratic nation in the region,” said Attorney General Schmitt
. “Further, 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? Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s should reverse their boycott immediately.”
According to the letter, in July of 2021, Ben & Jerry’s announced that it is “inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” and subsequently informed a licensee in the region that it would not renew its license agreement when it expires in 2022.
The letter begins with, “We, the attorneys general of our respective states, write today to express our grave concerns about Unilever’s decision to engage in a boycott of the State of Israel. Not only is Israel one of our nation’s closest and most reliable allies, but it is also the only democratic nation in the region and has long been a force for peace and stability.”
The letter notes that 33 states, including Missouri, have passed anti-BDS statutes that “prohibit investment of public pension funds or the awarding of government procurement contracts to companies that boycott Israel.”
Unilever has attempted to sidestep responsibility for Ben & Jerry’s boycott and has refused to stop that boycott, claiming that they respect Ben & Jerry’s and their independent Board to make decisions with respect to their “social mission.” However, as the letter states, Ben and Jerry’s “declares on its website that they are a ‘wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever…’ yet persist with their radical boycott. As the corporate parent with complete ownership and control, Unilever cannot escape legal and moral responsibility for Ben & Jerry’s ill-conceived boycott.”
Further, the letter points out that Unilever has dealings in China, Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and most alarmingly, Iran, who has publicly threatened the destruction of the Jewish state – yet no boycotts of those countries with troubling human rights records have been announced by Unilever.
The letter ends with, “in keeping with the fiduciary duties required of Unilever under the laws of the United States and under the laws of the individual states represented by this letter, we respectfully urge you to reconsider the decision by you and your subsidiary to boycott Israel.”
The full letter can be found here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/2021-11-22-ltr-alanjope.pdf?sfvrsn=e163d788_2
In addition to Missouri, attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia also signed on to the letter.