This morning, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)’s attorneys received the letter reprinted below from Alan Jope, the CEO of Unilever PLC (the parent company of the U.S.-based Ben & Jerry’s). Mr. Jope’s letter confirms a new business arrangement, under which Avi Zinger, owner of the current Israel-based Ben & Jerry’s licensee, will have full ownership rights to sell Ben & Jerry’s under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel, including Judea and Samaria. This is an important victory in the efforts to stop antisemitic, anti-Israel boycotts.
Mr. Jope’s letter today finally admits that Unilever has the right and responsibility to enter into this new arrangement ending Ben & Jerry’s anti-Israel boycott, under Unilever’s 2000 acquisition agreement with Ben & Jerry’s. ZOA’s attorneys wrote a demand letter to Unilever in September 2021, specifically detailing Unilever’s right and responsibility, under both the acquisition agreement and Unilever’s own policies, to override Ben & Jerry’s antisemitic boycott. (See “ZOA Attorneys Send Shareholders’ Letter Demanding that Unilever Board Must Override Ben & Jerry’s Antisemitic, Discriminatory Boycott Decision,” Sept. 2, 2021.)
ZOA would like to thank everyone who helped to obtain this victory, including:
- the U.S. states, including Florida, Arizona, Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey, that took action against Unilever;
- ZOA attorneys Susan Tuchman (Director of the ZOA Center for Law and Justice) and Elizabeth Berney (Director of Research and Special Projects), who wrote the detailed September 2021 demand letter to Unilever and the joint letter to Governor Hochul;
- the Unilever shareholders on whose behalf ZOA’s demand letter was written: ZOA Co-Vice Chair Dr. Paul Tartell and ZOA activist Richard Allen;
- each of the 16 Jewish organizations that signed a June 1, 2022 joint letter to NY Governor Kathy Hochul, authored by ZOA, placing more pressure on Unilever, namely: Americans Against Antisemitism (AAA) (Dov Hikind, letter organizer); 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.
- Avi Zinger and his attorneys;
- the Israeli government; and
- the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
This important victory demonstrates that working together to strongly oppose anti-Israel BDS leads to success.
Unfortunately, Ben & Jerry’s in the U.S. is continuing its antisemitic Israel-hating ways – including by requiring new employees to watch hostile-to-Israel video lectures by anti-Israel BDS leaders, as part of its employees’ training. But now Ben & Jerry’s in the U.S. will have no say about Ben & Jerry’s ice cream sales in Israel.
ZOA calls on Unilever to now put a stop to Ben & Jerry’s antisemitic employee training. Unilever’s non-discrimination governance policies require Unilever to end Ben & Jerry’s antisemitic, discriminatory employee training, which encourages Ben & Jerry’s employees to hate Jews and the Jewish state. Ending this hateful Ben & Jerry’s training should be Unilever’s next step, in order to return to responsible corporate governance.
+44 (0)20 7822 6542
Zionist Organization of America
Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., Director, Center for Law & Justice
29th June 2022
Dear Ms. Tuchman and Ms. Berney,
I am writing to update you on an announcement we have made about a new business arrangement for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel which will ensure the ice cream stays available to all consumers.
Unilever has sold its Ben & Jerry’s business interests in Israel to Avi Zinger, the owner of American Quality Products Ltd (AQP), the current Israel-based licensee. The new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank under the full ownership of its current licensee.
Under the terms of Unilever’s acquisition agreement of Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, Ben & Jerry’s and its independent Board were granted rights to take decisions about its social mission but Unilever reserved primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions and therefore has the right to enter this arrangement.
The new business arrangement follows a Unilever review of Ben & Jerry’s in Israel after the brand and its independent Board announced last year its decision to discontinue sales of its ice cream in the West Bank.
Unilever has used the opportunity of the past year to listen to perspectives on this complex and sensitive matter and believes this is the best outcome for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel. The review included extensive consultation over several months, including with the Israeli Government.
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate how proud we are of our business in Israel, which remains an important market for us. We have nearly 2,000 colleagues and four factories in the country and 85% of the products we sell in Israel are manufactured there. We look forward to continuing to make a positive contribution to Israel’s economy and society for many decades to come.
I would also like to make it exceptionally clear that Unilever rejects completely and repudiates unequivocally any form of discrimination or intolerance. Antisemitism has no place in any society. We have never expressed any support for the BDS movement and have no intention of changing that position.
We are pleased to have brought this matter to a resolution and look forward to watching Ben & Jerry’s prosper globally and under its new ownership in Israel.