Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
ZOA attorneys Susan Tuchman, Esq. and Elizabeth Berney, Esq. today sent a demand letter to the Board of Directors of Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever PLC, on behalf of Unilever shareholders Dr. Paul Tartell, Richard Allen and other potential Unilever shareholders. The letter demands that Unilever override Ben & Jerry’s antisemitic, discriminatory decision to boycott Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem – which Ben & Jerry’s falsely describes as “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” A copy of the demand letter is available here.
The letter explains that Unilever has the power and obligation to override Ben & Jerry’s antisemitic, discriminatory boycott decision. When Unilever acquired Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, Ben & Jerry’s agreed that its board members and employees would abide by the Unilever Code of Business Conduct – which is mandatory on all Unilever entities. Ben & Jerry’s boycott decision violates numerous Unilever business code requirements, including the requirements to respect relationships, obey applicable laws, not discriminate, and engage in responsible, truthful, accurate marketing.
The letter also refutes Unilever’s claim that it must respect and defer to Ben & Jerry’s “social mission.” The Unilever-Ben & Jerry’s 2000 agreements contain a limited, inapplicable definition of “social mission” and do not make Ben & Jerry’s solely responsible for that mission. Discriminating against Jews and the Jewish state is not part of that social mission.
In addition, the demand letter notes that Ben & Jerry’s is effectively boycotting the entire state of Israel. Israeli law forbids boycotts of Israeli citizens, Jewish or Arab, in all territories controlled by Israel. Complying with Ben & Jerry’s discriminatory requirements would force Ben & Jerry’s current Israeli licensee, or any future licensee, to violate Israeli law, which they cannot do. Thus Ben & Jerry’s is effectively preventing any law-abiding franchisee from operating in Israel.
The demand letter also details the enormous harm that failing to override Ben & Jerry’s discriminatory boycott is causing to Unilever, including subjecting Unilever to multiple pending U.S. state actions against Unilever, customer losses, kosher certification losses, and franchisee actions.