Town of Hempstead boycotting Unilever over Ben & Jerry's Israel stance

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Thursday, July 22, 2021
Town of Hempstead boycotting Unilever over Ben & Jerry's Israel stance
A group on Long Island is protesting against Ben & Jerry's decision to stop selling Ben & Jerry's in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

HEMPSTEAD, Nassau County (WABC) -- There is more backlash against Ben & Jerry's and its parent company Unilever over the company's decision to stop selling their products in the West Bank.

A group on Long Island is protesting against the ice cream company's decision to stop selling Ben & Jerry's in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

The supervisor of the Town of Hempstead is pledging to remove every single Ben & Jerry's or Unilever product from town buildings. That includes, for example, every Lipton tea bag and every packet of Hellman's mayonnaise.

He says he's also reaching out to local groceries stores to tell them that they should do the same.

Supervisor Don Clavin and supporters of Israel held a rally on the steps of town hall Thursday to denounce the move by Ben & Jerry's. They announced they would not sell their ice cream in occupied Palestinian territories because it's "inconsistent with its values."

Some perceive the move as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic as hundreds of thousands of Israelis live in the occupied territory.

"We're going to go through every department and every contract will be reviewed and we are going to hold them accountable for their support of this anti-Israeli action," Clavin said.

The CEO of Unilever said, "Unilever remains committed to doing business in Israel." But the CEO did not go as far to say that it would break off with Ben & Jerry's because of the move.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said she is disappointed and released a statement saying, "I am disappointed by Ben & Jerry's decision to align itself with the anti-Israel BDS movement, which unfairly and dangerously singles out the world's only Jewish State. I strongly oppose the BDS movement and have worked hard to strengthen the relationship between Israel and Nassau during my time as County Executive. As a County Legislator, I voted to prohibit the County from doing business with companies or individuals involved in the discriminatory BDS movement. This has been my long-standing position."

The county has not ordered anything from Unilever in quite some time, but they will not do that until this issue is resolved.

The county is allowed to do that under a 2016 law. The Town of Hempstead was the first township in the region to adopt anti-BDS legislation, targeting the BDS movement that attempts to isolate Israel and other U.S. allies from the international community. The law prohibits the town government from doing business with individuals or companies that openly boycott against America, Israel and other allies.

Ahmed Mohamed with the New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations applauded Ben and Jerry's decision.

"It's really shameful that certain companies and corporations around the world continue to do business in occupied territories. They shouldn't," he said. "We applaud Ben and Jerry's for their principled stance here."

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio also called for a boycott of Ben & Jerry's over the matter.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says Ben & Jerry's has decided to brand itself as the "anti-Israel ice cream."

He says its decision will have serious consequences for the company, and its parent company Unilever.

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