Simon Wiesenthal Center Urges Illinois Investment Policy (IIP) Board to Hold Unilever Accountable for Ben & Jerry’s Illegal and Immoral Boycott

December 22, 2021

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), a leading international Jewish human rights organization with tens of thousands of members in Illinois, is urging Illinois Investment Policy (IIP) Board to act against Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s illegal and immoral Boycott .

A letter submitted to the IIP last month by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the SWC’s Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action, urged IIP to “…invoke Article 1 of the Illinois Pension Code, add Unilever PLC to the Israel Boycott Company list, and stop investing public money in Unilever PLC.”

“The Illinois Investment Policy Board has done an exceptional job of prohibiting investment of public money in companies who have engaged in politically motivated actions “intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with the State of Israel or in territories controlled by the State of Israel.” 40 ILCS 5/1-110.16(a). There is no company that currently fits into that definition more than Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever PLC… 

“Unilever is in a position to cancel the boycott. To date, it has failed to do so and are now reaping the consequences of the boycott. The States of New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Arizona have followed their anti-BDS laws and are divesting from Unilever PLC.” 

The Wiesenthal Center noted that Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling ice cream in East Jerusalem and the West Bank was a purely political act. It was pushed forward by its activist board Chairwoman, Anuradha Mittal, who has a track record of endorsing the BDS movement and defending Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist groups. Like other anti-Israel boycotts, Arab as well as Jewish employees living in Holy Land will be the ones to suffer the consequences.

But Ben and Jerry’s doesn’t care. Their decision to plow profits from its products in order to brand Jews as occupiers in their own land, flies in the face of the historic Abraham Accords which has seen Israel and Arab nations embrace peace, mutual respect and expanding economic relations.  Beyond its anti-peace action, Ben and Jerry’s boycott represents a danger to Jews everywhere at a time of surging anti-Semitism. 

For months, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has been a leading voice in denouncing Ben and Jerry’s outrageous decision and in pressuring Unilever to either reverse the decision or divest ownership of the ice cream company. “We are buoyed by the action of various states who have decided to do the right thing. Today, as it completes its deliberations, we hope that the Illinois Investment Policy Board will follow the law and make the right moral decision. If Unilever won’t reverse the boycott, the State of Illinois should announce today it is divesting from Unilever," Rabbi Cooper concluded.

For comment: Please contact Rabbi Abraham Cooper 1-818-519-9690; or Alison Pure-Slovin, Director, Midwest Region C. 708.714.0749;

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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