Says, ‘will continue to fight for, Arkansas’s commonsense law barring public entities from doing business with companies that boycott Israel’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Rutledge joined a coalition of 12 states in sending a letter to Unilever and its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., urging them to reverse their decision to boycott the State of Israel. According to the letter, 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,” and subsequently informed a licensee in the region that it would not renew its license agreement when it expires in 2022. That letter follows Rutledge’s continued successful defense of Arkansas’s law barring state entities from contracting with those who boycott Israel.
“I am telling Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever to immediately reverse their ridiculous decision to boycott Israel,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “In Arkansas, I have defended, and will continue to fight for, Arkansas’s commonsense law barring public entities from doing business with companies that boycott Israel.”
The letter notes that 33 states, including Arkansas, have passed anti-boycott divestment and sanctions against Israel statutes that prohibit investment of public pension funds or the awarding of government procurement contracts to companies that boycott Israel.
Unilever has attempted to sidestep responsibility for Ben & Jerry’s boycott and has refused to stop that boycott, claiming that the parent company respects Ben & Jerry’s and its independent Board to make decisions with respect to the Ben & Jerry’s “social mission.” However, as the letter states, Ben & Jerry’s openly declares on its website that it is a “wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever…” yet persists with its radical boycott. We submit that these two diverse positions, taken by Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s, cannot be satisfactorily squared. Further, the letter points out that Unilever has dealings in China, Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and most alarmingly, Iran, who has publicly threatened the destruction of the Jewish state – yet no boycotts of those countries with troubling human rights records have been announced by Unilever.
In addition to Arkansas, attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia also signed on to the letter.