Amid growing outrage over Ben and Jerry’s decision to halt all business in Judea and Samaria, the America’s largest township took action. Last Thursday, the Town of Hempstead became the first to prohibit any future business with not only the famous ice cream brand, but also with its parent company, Unilever. Flanked by a bipartisan coalition, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin made the announcement ending business relations with Unilever. This decision follows a 2016 law that prohibited the town government from conducting business with anyone that openly boycotts America or its allies, including Israel.
Although Ben and Jerry’s does have its own board of directors, Clavin explained that Unilever does bear responsibility for this decision. “I don’t want to hear the corporate heads say, ‘oh, it’s not us,’” Clavin stated. “It is you. You’re allowing this to take place…If you’re going to allow this anti-Israeli sentiment to take place, you can’t hide. You are going to be held responsible. We are going to stop doing business with you and now we’re urging everyone else to follow our lead once again.”
And join him they did. And not just townships, but entire states. According to the Times of Israel, five US states are reviewing their policies and capabilities of ceasing all business with Ben and Jerry’s and Unilever. They are Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. Even New York City mayor Bill de Blasio jumped on board with those condemning the decision, stating that he will be boycotting Ben and Jerry’s “as least for a little while.”
This announcement is part of a growing movement of local government speaking out and legislating based on international geopolitics. Back in May, mayoral candidate Andrew Yang infamously flip-flopped within the span of a few days on his stance on Israel, causing backlash from all sides. As local politics continue to encompass many national and international issues, the Town of Hempstead became one of the first to take action against a company for joining in with the BDS movement.
Clavin told the sizeable crowd that he would no longer be purchasing Ben and Jerry’s or any Unilever products for his home, and would be trashing all Unilever products currently in his house. When asked if he would be encouraging local businesses to follow suit, Clavin responded that it was not a bad idea to talk to local vendors about the possibility of pulling Unilever products from the shelves.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.