Sparked by Ben & Jerry’s boycott of Israel, storied Jewish anti-Semitism watchdog calls for consumers and legislators to act against the global company.
LOS ANGELES — Today, the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) announced a campaign to confront anti-Semitism at Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever, in response to the ice cream maker’s recent boycott of Israel. The campaign, which launches with print ads in Jewish newspapers around America, calls on consumers, states, and legislators to hold Unilever accountable for anti-Semitism tied to its organization. A copy of the SWC advertisement as it appeared in one paper, the Cleveland Jewish News, can be found here.
Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever have demonstrated a pattern of anti-Semitic behavior, according to SWC. In addition to the boycott, Ben & Jerry’s board chairwoman Anuradha Mittal has a track record of endorsing the anti-Semitic BDS movement and defending Hezbollah and Hamas. Both acts prompted the SWC to publish a series of advertisements in outlets nationwide calling on consumers to encourage their local grocery stores to stop selling Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
“It was never just about ice cream sold in East Jerusalem. It is all about Ben and Jerry’s ice cream company profits being leveraged by an activist anti-Semite who hates Israel and defends Hamas – and the corporate executives at Unilever letting it happen,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “This is about arrogance and irresponsibility, enabling the odious anti-Semitic BDS movement to use money from a global brand to brand Jews as occupiers in their own land at a time when there is a spike of violent attacks against Jews from Germany to the UK to the U.S.”
The SWC campaign aims to mobilize Americans and states to contest Ben & Jerry’s boycott against Israel, a critical U.S. ally. Many states have already pulled investments out of Unilever, including a combined $325 million divestment from Arizona and New Jersey. Reviews of Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s that could lead to similar action are underway in New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Maryland, and Rhode Island, prompted by anti-BDS laws requiring states to withdraw investments from any company that boycotts the goods, products, or businesses of Israel.
Using boycotts to isolate the Jewish State date back to the Arab League boycott of Israel. In 1977, Congress passed laws prohibiting U.S. companies from complying with the boycott. “Thankfully there are laws in our country that ensure there are consequences for such corporate anti-Semitism,” Rabbi Cooper said. “Just ask the states of Arizona, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Florida.”
About the Simon Wiesenthal Center: The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a Jewish global human rights organization researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context. The Center confronts anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations. With a constituency of over 400,000 households in the United States, it is accredited as an NGO at international organizations including the United Nations, UNESCO, OSCE, Organization of American States (OAS), the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO) and the Council of Europe.