CAIR, CAIR-NJ Praise Ben & Jerry’s for Standing by Boycott of Illegal Israeli Settlements, Calls Unilever’s Sale a ‘Failure’ for Anti-Palestinian Groups
(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 06/30/2022) – The national headquarters and New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations today praised Ben & Jerry’s for its steadfast refusal to sell products in illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine and condemned Unilever’s “cowardly” decision to sell its business interest so that a local Israeli company can resume the sales under different names.
Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s New Jersey-based parent company, announced the sale of its business interest to its Israeli company owned by Avi Zinger, who had also sued the Unilever over Ben & Jerry’s decision, according to Unilever’s statement. Ben & Jerry’s has not changed its stance and says it will not profit from the sales.
Ben & Jerry’s wrote, “We are aware of the Unilever announcement. While our parent company has taken this decision, we do not agree with it. Unilever’s arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s in Israel will be owned and operated by AQP. Our company will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel. We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Last year, New Jersey’s Division of Investment pulled $182 million in pension funds out of Unilever, citing a state law that prohibited the investment of state pension funds in businesses that engaged in boycotts of Israel. Six other states, including Florida and New York, did the same.
In a statement, CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:
“We commend Ben & Jerry’s for standing by their decision to boycott illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, and we condemn Unilever for its cowardly attempt to avoid taking a stance against Israeli apartheid.
“Unilever’s decision to sell off its business interests in the face of Ben & Jerry’s steadfast refusal to buckle under pressure represents the latest failure of anti-Palestinian groups to bully a principled corporation into submission. Support for Palestinian human rights is spreading around the world, whether they like it or not.”
In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:
“We applaud Ben & Jerry’s principled position. At the same time, we are disappointed but also unsurprised by Unilever’s decision.
“This is what happens when bad faith actors conflate criticisms of Israeli apartheid policies – like illegal sentiments, racist laws and segregated housing – with antisemitism. It’s the aftermath we warned of when we opposed the 2016 anti-boycott law. Boycotts have long been a significant facet of civil rights movements, including in the U.S., and they should be honored.
“Our office continues to stand firmly against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and its violation of international human rights laws, and we call on Governor Murphy to repeal the anti-boycott law that, right now, stands in violation of New Jerseyans’ right to free speech.”
CAIR, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other civil rights organizations have filed free speech lawsuits against anti-BDS laws in Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, and Texas, where CAIR won a landmark legal victory in 2019.
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.