US stockholder sues Ben & Jerry’s parent company over anti-Israel boycott

After Unilever’s stock tanks over Ben & Jerry’s boycott of Israeli towns, US stockholder sues company as part of class action lawsuit.

By World Israel News Staff

An American pension fund with stock in consumer goods giant Unilever has filed a lawsuit against the company over its decision to halt sales of its Ben & Jerry’s brand ice cream in Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria.

According to a report by Reuters Thursday morning, the lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in a federal court in Manhattan, as part of a proposed class action suit against the British company Unilever.

The claimant named in the suit is a Michigan-based pension fund, the City of St. Clair Shores Police and Fire Retirement System.

The lawsuit accuses Unilever, which acquired the iconic Vermont-based ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, of mishandling the boycott of Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.

Specifically, the suit claims Unilever improperly concealed the boycott plan, amid fears U.S. states with laws targeting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement could divest from Unilever.

Unilever announced last July that Ben & Jerry’s brand ice cream will no longer be sold to Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, saying it would be “inconsistent” with the company’s values to do business in what Unilever called “Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett condemned the move as a “moral” and “business mistake”, while dozens of U.S. states threatened sanctions against the company. Seven states, including Texas, Florida, and New York, divested their pension funds in Unilever.

“As a result of defendants’ wrongful acts and omissions, and the declines in the market value of Unilever ADRs, plaintiff and other class members have suffered significant losses and damages,” the suit claims.

By January of this year, Unilever’s stock had fallen 20.7% since the boycott announcement, reflecting losses of $26 billion – while its chief competitor, Nestle, enjoyed a 5% increase in the value of its stock over the same period.

An Israeli ice-cream maker, American Quality Products Ltd, filed a lawsuit against Ben & Jerry’s in March over the company’s refusal to extend its license. A New Jersey court has since placed the suit on hold, after the two sides agreed to arbitration.

Unilever has declined to comment on Wednesday’s lawsuit.

Earlier this week, Jewish Insider reported that Ben & Jerry’s is requiring all new employees to watch four videos about the Israeli-Arab conflict, all of which appear to be biased against Israel.