Bassem Eid, 63, a PA Arab living in Jericho who has had an extensive career as a human rights activist, filed a complaint in October with New York state’s Division of Human Rights against Conopco Inc., the US division of Unilever that owns ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s.
Eid explained: “This charge arises from an announcement dated July 19th, 2021, by Ben and Jerry’s of a boycott directed at the area claimed as the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory’ (‘OPT’) and subsequent announcement of the Ben and Jerry’s Board of Directors of an intention to boycott the entire State of Israel.”
Eid argues his Locus standi (right of standing) in this case as follows: “I have been invited to an event in the claimed ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories,’ scheduled to take place in January 2023 at which ice cream is expected to be served. Accordingly, I am an aggrieved party in respect of the Respondent’s activities since my host (and therefore I) will not have access to Respondent’s ice cream.”
Our good friend Elder of Zion posted the full text of the complaint which reads, in part (EXCLUSIVE: Palestinian human rights advocate Bassem Eid files a complaint against Unilever over Ben and Jerry’s boycott of Israel):
On 19 July 2021, Ben & Jerry’s announced their intention to end sales of their ice cream in the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory’ and inform their Israeli licensee, who distributes in the region, that they will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year. On the same day, in a separate announcement, the Respondent announced its support of Ben & Jerry’s decision, effectively endorsing the company’s boycott.
Although the Respondent insisted in its announcement that it remained fully committed to its “presence in Israel”, upon information and belief its Israeli distributor has refused to participate in its boycott activity, which would, inter alia, also be in violation of Israel’s ‘Law Prohibiting Discrimination’ in the provision of goods and services based on place of residence.
As it is highly unlikely that the Respondent will find an Israeli distributor to be a willing accomplice to such illegal and discriminatory BDS activity, the practical effect of the announcement is a decision to boycott the entire State of Israel. Therefore, regardless of where one draws the lines of Israel’s borders, the boycott will also apply to me, as a resident of Jericho, in the purported ‘OPT’.
Eid noted in his complaint: “I am a Palestinian Arab human rights activist. I was born in Jerusalem and reside in Jericho. I have dedicated my life to advocating for peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. In doing so, I firmly reject the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, otherwise known as ‘BDS’. I believe BDS is counterproductive to peace and creates only more hatred, enmity, and polarization, as evidenced by the Respondent’s actions in this matter.”
In fact, Eid said, “such boycotts as this will only result in increased economic hardships for actual Palestinians, such as myself.”
“If so-called pro-Palestinian activists truly want to help the Palestinians’ cause, then they should demand Palestinian leadership respect basic freedom, human rights and democracy for the Palestinian people while assisting Israel in creating more jobs employing Palestinian people and initiating programs that bring the sides together, not create barriers, walls, and only more hate,” Eid said.
In October, New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that he was pulling the state’s pension fund investments totaling $111 million from Unilever in protest of the boycott. DiNapoli stated: “After a thorough review, the New York State Common Retirement Fund will divest its equity holdings in Unilever PLC. Our review of the activities of the company, and its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s, found they engaged in BDS activities under our pension fund’s policy.”