A pro-Israel group is launching a $500,000 ad campaign to put the squeeze on Ben & Jerry’s parent company over the ice-cream maker’s refusal to peddle its products in Israeli-controlled Palestinian territories.
The organization StandWithUS is posting billboards in North Jersey, including near Unilever’s Englewood Cliffs headquarters there, that say, “Don’t Let Ben & Jerry’s Melt Your Profits,” and “Don’t Let Antisemitism Melt Your Brand.”
Unilever is Ben & Jerry’s parent company, but the ice-cream manufacturer is run by an independent board.
The ads include a picture of a pint of “Double Standard Fudge” ice cream with the word “hypocrites” across the top.
Another billboard reads “Don’t Let Ben & Jerry’s Antisemitism Kill Your Profits” — with Unilever brands Dove, Ben & Jerry’s, Lipton and Axe listed on the top.
The billboards include the Web site “corporatehate.com” at the bottom. The site lists firms that StandWithUS says promote “corporate antisemitism” by participating in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Jewish State.
Ben & Jerry’s announced in July that it would no longer sell its ice-cream products in disputed Israel-controlled territories populated by Palestinians such as the West Bank, where the Jewish State has built settlements critics deem illegal. B&J’s called the region “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
“Unilever’s actions empower extremists who oppose Israel’s existence, and despite multiple requests to reverse course, the company has refused to do so,” StandWithUs said in a press release.
The pro-Israel advocacy group said the campaign against Unilever will put other firms on notice that they will be targeted if they partake in such “corporate antisemitism.”
“Corporations hold immense power to shape public opinion and cultural norms, and it is crucial to hold them accountable when they promote or enable antisemitism,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs.
“This campaign against corporate antisemitism will begin with Unilever and ensure their consumer brands across industries bear a reputational and financial cost for its discriminatory actions,” she said.
Aside from the billboards, the campaign against Unilever will include direct mail and digital advertising.
New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli recently announced that he was pulling $111 million in pension funds invested in Unilever stocks over B&J’s participation in the BDS movement against Israel.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also put Unilever on notice that she will enforce an executive order that bars the Empire State government from investing in firms that engage in BDS actions against Israel.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer met recently with Unilever CEO Alan Jope over B&J’s action against Israel — but stopped short of yanking the Big Apple’s $187 million in pension investments in Unilever stock. Stringer’s term expires Dec. 31, and he’s faced withering criticism from pro-Israel allies for failing to punish Unilver/B&J’s.
Unilever had no immediate comment. But it has argued that B&J’s limited boycott in the West Bank is not a boycott of Israel.
“Unilever has a strong and longstanding commitment to our business in Israel. We employ nearly 2,000 people in the country across our four factories and head office, and we have invested approximately $250 million in the Israeli market over the last decade,” Jope said in a recent letter to DiNapoli’s office.
Ben and Jerry’s Jewish co-founders, Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield — who sold their namesake company to Unilever in 2000 — defended the company’s decision to end sales in the region in a New York Times editorial in July, writing that Israel was one of the first countries that the company had expanded to internationally as it grew.
The founders, who called themselves “proud Jews,” said it is “possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies” just as they have “opposed policies in the US government.”