PHOENIX – Attorney General Mark Brnovich joined a 12-state coalition in sending a letter to Unilever and its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., urging them to reverse their decision to boycott the State of Israel.
“We must defend the laws of our states and oppose attempts by global corporations to engage in economic warfare against the State of Israel,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
In July of this year, Ben & Jerry’s announced that it is “inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” and subsequently informed a licensee in the region that it would not renew its license agreement when it expires in 2022.
The coalition's letter begins with, “We, the attorneys general of our respective states, write today to express our grave concerns about Unilever’s decision to engage in a boycott of the State of Israel. Not only is Israel one of our nation’s closest and most reliable allies, but it is also the only democratic nation in the region and has long been a force for peace and stability.”
The letter notes that 33 states, including Arizona, have passed anti-BDS statutes that “prohibit investment of public pension funds or the awarding of government procurement contracts to companies that boycott Israel.”
Unilever has attempted to sidestep responsibility for Ben & Jerry’s boycott and has refused to stop that boycott, claiming that they respect Ben & Jerry’s and their independent Board to make decisions with respect to their “social mission.” However, as the letter states, Ben and Jerry’s “openly declares on its website that they are a ‘wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever…’ yet persist with their radical boycott. We submit that these two diverse positions, staked out by Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s, cannot be satisfactorily squared.”
Further, the letter points out that Unilever has dealings in China, Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and most alarmingly, Iran, who has publicly threatened the destruction of the Jewish state – yet no boycotts of those countries with troubling human rights records have been announced by Unilever.
The letter ends with, “in keeping with the fiduciary duties required of Unilever under the laws of the United States and under the laws of the individual states represented by this letter, we respectfully urge you to reconsider the decision by you and your subsidiary to boycott Israel.”
The full letter can be found here.
In addition to Arizona, attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia also signed on to the letter.