Bassem Eid, the former B’Tselem researcher who has been working tirelessly for Palestinian human rights without the antisemitism, has filed a complaint against Unilever in New York State for its Ben and Jerry’s subsidiary illegally boycotting Israel.
I. Background1. This charge arises from an announcement dated July 19th, 2021, by Ben andJerry’s of a boycott directed at the area claimed as the “Occupied Palestinian Territory”(“OPT”) and subsequent announcement of the Ben and Jerry’s Board of Directors of anintention to boycott the entire State of Israel. As set forth in more detail below, thischarge alleges that the Respondent Conopco, Inc., (“Respondent”), owner of Ben andJerry’s, has aided and abetted an unlawful discriminatory boycott in violation of the LisaLaw which is now part of the New York State Human Rights Law.II. The Charging Party2. I am a Palestinian Arab human rights activist. I was born in Jerusalem and residein Jericho.3. I have dedicated my life advocating for peace and reconciliation between Israelisand Palestinians. In doing so, I firmly reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctionsmovement, otherwise known as ‘BDS’. I believe BDS is counterproductive to peace andcreates only more hatred, enmity and polarization, as evidenced by the Respondent’sactions in this matter. Moreover, whereas the BDS movement’s spokespeople andsupporters live in comfortable circumstances abroad, such boycotts as this will only resultin increased economic hardships for actual Palestinians, such as myself.If so-called pro-Palestinian activists truly want to help the Palestinians’ cause,then they should demand Palestinian leadership respect basic freedom, human rights anddemocracy for the Palestinian people, while assisting Israel in creating more jobsemploying Palestinian people and initiating programs that bring the sides together, notcreate barriers, walls and only more hate.IV. Respondent’s BDS Activity9. On 19 July 2021, Ben & Jerry’s announced their intention to end sales of theirice-cream in the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory’ and inform their Israeli licensee, whodistributes in the region, that they will not renew the license agreement when it expires atthe end of next year. On the same day, in a separate announcement, the Respondentannounced its support of Ben & Jerry’s decision, effectively endorsing the company’sboycott.10. Although the Respondent insisted in its announcement that it remained fullycommitted to its “presence in Israel”, upon information and belief its Israeli distributorhas refused to participate in its boycott activity, which would, inter alia, also be inviolation of Israel’s ‘Law Prohibiting Discrimination’ in the provision of goods andservices based on place of residence.As it is highly unlikely that the Respondent will find an Israeli distributor to be awilling accomplice to such illegal and discriminatory BDS activity, the practical effect ofthe announcement is a decision to boycott the entire State of Israel. Therefore, regardlessof where one draws the lines of Israel’s borders, the boycott will also to apply to me, as aresident of Jericho, in the purported ‘OPT’.11. Moreover, although Ben & Jerry’s nominally announced that it intended tocontinue to do business in Israel, upon information and belief a senior official at Ben &Jerry’s, Anuradha Mittal, vehemently objected to this qualification. Upon informationand belief, the same individual, in her capacity as Chairperson of the Ben & Jerry’sBoard of Directors, has publicly expressed support for a boycott of all of Israel and wasthe primary proponent and initial decision-maker behind the boycott activity describedherein.12. In other words, the circumstances of the Ben & Jerry’s announcement indicatethat the company’s boycott is intended to engage in an unlawful discriminatory boycott,and the rhetoric about “illegal occupation” is simply a fig leaf for the discriminatoryactivity.V. Effect on Palestinians13. Regardless of the intent of the law, the effect is discrimination and boycott onPalestinian Arabs such as myself, who reside in the so-called ‘OPT’ and would thereforebe denied ability to purchase Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream.For example, I, as a Palestinian, as well as many of my friends, family and otherPalestinians, are regular shoppers at the Gush Etzion commercial center, which is locatedin Area C, and where we also frequent to eat ice-cream. This shopping area is the truerealization of coexistence, as both Jews and Muslims from both Israel and the Palestiniancontrolled territories, including areas A and B, work and shop there. Israeli Jews andArabs also travel from Jerusalem to enjoy what this center has to offer. Gush Etzion isnot the only mixed-commercial area in which such a positive dynamic occurs, and theyare all targeted by the BDS movement, trying to push us apart instead of fostering andpromoting such people-to-people togetherness, friendship, cooperation and peace. TheBDS’s movement has had tremendous negative affect on me and other Palestinians, someof whom have lost their place of employment and access to goods and services.14. In any event, I have been invited to an event in the claimed ‘OPT’, scheduled totake place in January 2023 at which ice cream is expected to be served. Accordingly, Iam an aggrieved party in respect of the Respondent’s activities since my host (andtherefore me) will not have access to Respondent’s ice cream.