The CEO of Unilever, Alan Jope, sent a letter to several Jewish organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Anti-Defamation League, saying that his company does not support BDS, drawing a distinction between the call of BDS to boycott Israel completely and a boycott of Yehudah and Shomron.
“Unilever rejects completely and repudiates unequivocally any forms of discrimination or intolerance,” Jope wrote. “Antisemitism has no place in any society. We have never expressed any support for the BDS movement and have no intention of changing that position.”
Jope emphasized that Ben & Jerry’s decision was a “complex matter” due to the fact that Unilever’s acquisition of the ice cream company included an agreement to “recognize the right of the brand and its independent Board to take decisions in accordance with its social mission. On this decision, it was no different.”
The CEO added that Unilver has invested $295 million in the Israeli market and
employs almost 2,000 people in Israel.
“I hope that this letter goes some way to reassuring you that we recognize the concerns you have raised and that Unilever remains fully committed to our colleagues and customers in Israel, and Jewish communities around the world,” Jope concluded.
However, the Jewish organizations weren’t mollified by the letter, with the Conference of Presidents stating that Unilever’s response “does not go nearly far enough.”
“Unilever reportedly has the legal ability to override the recommendation of Ben & Jerry’s board to boycott Israel,” the organization stated. “We again strongly encourage them to do so, as boycotts of Israel are discriminatory and further inflame tensions.”
The ADL’s response was a little more positive, with CEO Jonathan Greenblatt writing he was “glad Unilever unambiguously rejected BDS.”
However, Greenblatt emphasized that he doesn’t agree with a boycott of Yehudah and Shomron and would like Ben & Jerry’s to reverse its decision. “While ADL is a strong supporter of the two-state solution, we believe that it is wrong for any company to single out Israel by refusing to sell its products to Israelis and Palestinians living in the West Bank,” he wrote.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)