“Why did the Israeli government surrender to BDS without a fight?” the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Israel asked.
By: Aryeh Savir
Avi Zinger, CEO and owner of Ben & Jerry’s Israel, sent a letter to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett calling on him to take action against Unilever Global – Ben & Jerry’s parent company, following its boycott of the Jewish state.
Unilever stated in July that it was ending sales in Israel as “we believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Zinger, the Israeli license owner, refused the Ben and Jerry’s demand to withdraw his sales from Judea and Samaria. Unilever then announced it would not renew its license.
In his letter, Zinger stated that Unilever, which operates without interruption in Israel and receives unprecedented regulatory benefits, and the IDF continues to purchase products worth millions of shekels a year from the company.
After Unilever announced its boycott, Bennett himself called Unilever’s CEO, saying that the boycott will have legal and other consequences and that Israel will “act vigorously against any act of boycott directed against its citizens.”
In Zinger’s letter to Bennett, written on behalf of himself and 169 employees at the factory in Beer Tuvia, said that Israel is not doing what it itself demands of the world. The boycott law passed by the Knesset in 2011calls for immediate sanctions against a company that boycotts the Jewish state, the letter noted.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Jewish communities have been waging a struggle against Unilever Global, and have managed to trigger the anti-boycott laws against Unilever, which led to the withdrawal of investments, holdings and pension funds, including from the states of New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Texas, and Arizona.
However, “here in Israel, despite explicit threats at the beginning, nothing was done with a huge company that decided to take boycott measures against the State of Israel, Zinger wrote.
“Worse, Unilever, which violates the Israeli boycott law, continues to supply the State of Israel, the IDF, and government bodies, with goods that cost millions of shekels a year, and even receive far-reaching regulatory benefits.
“Why did the Israeli government surrender to BDS without a fight? Is the state sending the right message to the world? How is it possible that here in Israel the CEO of Unilever was not even summoned to a hearing and business with the company continues as usual?” he demanded.
“The State of Israel, in its long silence, without taking action, is the one that allows the future boycott by other companies and gives victory to BDS,” Zinger charged
“The [Bennett’s] helplessness in the face of a company that is taking boycott measures is undermining Israel’s deterrent power and will lead not only to fatal damage to Ben & Jerry’s Israel, but also to many other businesses in the future. Do not look away and allow a glorious enterprise to end its path – activate the boycott law,” he demanded.
Unilever was on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Global Antisemitism Top Ten list for 2021. From the outset, the SWC labeled the boycott “a purely political act.”
The boycott was pushed forward by its activist board chairwoman, Anuradha Mittal, who has a track record of endorsing the BDS movement and defending Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist groups.