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JOINT PRESS RELEASE
Sixteen Groups Urge NYS Gov. Hochul to Act Against Unilever/Ben & Jerry’s Antisemitic BDS as Promised
June 7, 2022
NEW YORK — On Tuesday, June 1, 2022, 16 Jewish and Christian pro-Israel organizations with large constituencies in New York State sent a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul and Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy, urging them to act against the continuing antisemitic boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) actions by Unilever PLC and its wholly owned subsidiary, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc. The text of the letter can be viewed here.
The 16 organizations signing the letter include: Americans Against Antisemitism (AAA); the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA); Students Supporting Israel (SSI); AMIT; Emunah; Coalition for Jewish Values; EZRA USA National Movement; StopAntisemitism; North American Board of Rabbis; Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN); Rabbinical Alliance of America; The Lawfare Project; Israel Heritage Foundation; One Israel Fund; Conference of Jewish Affairs; and Americans for a Safe Israel. (AAA organized the letter. The ZOA authored the letter.)
The letter urges Governor Hochul to follow through on her 90-day warning, sent to Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s on November 12, 2021, that Unilever’s and Ben & Jerry’s’ BDS actions targeting Israel appear to require them to be placed on New York’s list of companies that New York is required to divest from. The Governor gave Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s 90 days to explain why they should not be barred from New York State investments.
Over three months have passed since the Governor’s 90-day deadline. More than 10 months have passed since Ben & Jerry’s instituted its antisemitic boycott. Unilever has refused to override the boycott, even though Unilever has the power and obligation to do so. Meanwhile, other states and the New York Comptroller acted forcefully against Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s. New York State needs to finally take decisive action, by placing Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s on the New York boycott list.
BDS leaders admit that the goal of BDS is to destroy Israel. The Ben & Jerry’s boycott is effectively a boycott of all of Israel, because under Israeli law, Ben & Jerry’s franchisees and stores cannot legally abide by a boycott against Jews in Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria.
AAA founder and former Democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who previously publicly called on Governor Hochul to act, stated: “Governor Hochul needs to fulfill her promise on BDS. The NYS comptroller already divested from Unilever six months ago. We will keep raising this issue until it is fully addressed.”
Morton A. Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), explained: “Anti-Jewish attacks often start with boycotts. As a child of Holocaust survivors, I keep in mind that the Nazis’ atrocities began with their 1933 boycott of Jewish businesses. On behalf of thousands of supporters and friends in the State of New York, I urge Governor Hochul and Commissioner Moy to follow through now on their assurances made last fall. Placing Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s on New York’s BDS list will demonstrate that New York has zero tolerance for antisemitism and antisemitic boycotts.”
Rabbi Schonfeld, President of the Coalition for Jewish Values and the leader of a prominent Queens, New York synagogue, added: “BDS is rooted in old antisemitic canards that Jews are evil and all Jewish property is stolen, and thus Jews deserve to be attacked economically. This was previously manifest in the Nazi boycott and is now applied to Jewish homes in the Jewish homeland. BDS is about destroying Jewish lives and Israel.”
Rabbi Shimon Margolin, Executive Vice President of the EZRA USA National Movement of young Russian Jews, stated: “A large Russian Jewish community came to New York to escape the Soviet Union’s anti-Jewish discrimination. We urge Governor Hochul to place Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s on New York’s boycott list, so that New York can continue to be a beacon of tolerance and a place where anti-Jewish actions are unacceptable.“
Liora Rez, Executive Director of StopAntisemitism, said: “We are asking Governor Kathy Hochul to take action now that the 90-day period has passed. New York State needs to divest from Unilever, to assure that New York does not support those that boycott the world’s only Jewish nation.“