Kathy Hochul
Kathy Hochul REUTERS/Cindy Schultz

A coalition of pro-Israel organizations with large constituencies in New York State called upon New York Governor Kathy Hochul to fulfill her promise to act against Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever for its continuing Israel boycott.

The 16 groups, including the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and Americans Against Antisemitism (AAA), sent a letter to Hochul and Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy urging the governor to follow through on her 90-day warning, which she sent to Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s on November 2021 stating that Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s’ boycott policy targeting Israel would appear to require them to be placed on New York’s list of companies that the state is mandated to divest from.

Hochul gave Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s 90 days to explain why they should not be barred from New York State investments.

The letter, organized by AAA and written by the ZOA, was necessary because over three months have passed since Hochul’s 90 day deadline, and over 10 months have passed since Ben & Jerry’s announced its boycott, the ZOA explained.

“Unilever has refused to override the boycott, even though Unilever has the power and obligation to do so,” ZOA said in a statement. “Meanwhile, other states and the New York Comptroller acted forcefully against Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s. New York State needs to finally take decisive action, by placing Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s on the New York boycott list.”

“BDS leaders admit that the goal of BDS is to destroy Israel. The Ben & Jerry’s boycott is effectively a boycott of all of Israel, because under Israeli law, Ben & Jerry’s franchisees and stores cannot legally abide by a boycott against Jews in Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria,” ZOA added.

AAA founder and former Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind repeated his previous call for Hochul to act.

“Governor Hochul needs to fulfill her promise on BDS,” he said. “The [New York State] comptroller already divested from Unilever six months ago. We will keep raising this issue until it is fully addressed.”

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein pointed out that historically attacks on the Jewish community have begun with boycotts.

“As a child of Holocaust survivors, I keep in mind that the Nazis’ atrocities began with their 1933 boycott of Jewish businesses. On behalf of thousands of supporters and friends in the State of New York, I urge Governor Hochul and Commissioner Moy to follow through now on their assurances made last fall,” he said.

“Placing Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s on New York’s BDS list will demonstrate that New York has zero tolerance for antisemitism and antisemitic boycotts.”