2021 News Releases

AG Derek Schmidt to Unilever: Reverse Ben & Jerry’s boycott of Israel

Release Date: Nov 22, 2021

TOPEKA – (November 22, 2021) – Unilever must end the ill-advised decision by its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. to boycott Israel and instead stand in support of the ally of the United States, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.

Schmidt joined 11 other state attorneys general in sending a letter to Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, urging the conglomerate to insist on an end to the Ben & Jerry's boycott. The attorneys general noted that Unilever has business dealings with nations such as Iran, which has called for the destruction of Israel, yet Unilever has not announced boycotts of those nations.

In July 2021, 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 letter notes that 33 states, including Kansas, have enacted state statutes prohibiting government procurement contracts with companies that boycott or discriminate against Israel.

Unilever has attempted to sidestep responsibility for the 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 discloses “openly on its website that they are a ‘wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever…’ yet it persists with its radical boycott. As the corporate parent with complete ownership and control, Unilever cannot escape legal and moral responsibility for Ben & Jerry’s ill-conceived boycott.”

The full letter to Unilever can be found at https://bit.ly/30PB6MU.

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News releases issued prior to 2011 are available through an archive hosted by the Kansas State Library.