New York State Unilever Sign On Letter

November 29, 2021

The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Hochul,

We are Jewish New Yorkers writing to express our opposition to the recent determination by the Commissioner of the Office of General Services of New York that Ben & Jerry’s boycott of settlements in the occupied territory controlled by Israel constitutes engaging in BDS against the state of Israel, and the subsequent decision to restrict New York pension fund holdings from its parent company, Unilever PLC under the auspices of Executive Order 157.

The July 2021 Ben & Jerry’s decision to cease sales of its product in Israeli settlements is a principled pro-Israel position. Both Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever have repeatedly stated that their policy is limited to territory that is under Israeli military occupation, and that this decision would not extend to sales of their products within the state of Israel. By narrowly targeting Israeli settlements in the West Bank while continuing to sell products in the state of Israel, Ben & Jerry’s has taken a moral stance to boycott settlements – one of the greatest threats to Israel's future and a Two-State solution – while continuing to support the legitimacy and existence of the state of Israel.

The United States does not recognize the Israeli settlements as part of the state of Israel. For a future Two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and, indeed, for the future of Israel as a democracy and a Jewish state, it is vital that the distinction between sovereign Israel and the settlements be maintained.

The State of New York’s Executive Order 157, under which this decision has been made, also does not conflate Israel with the territories it controls. The Executive Order contains no mention of territories controlled by the state of Israel. Rather, it clearly defines BDS targeting Israel as engaging in or promoting any activity that is “intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with Israel or persons doing business in Israel.”

Indeed, it is the decision by the Commissioner that fails to uphold these crucial differences. By wrongly applying the same standard of treatment to both the settlements in the occupied territories and the state of Israel, this decision undermines the distinction between the two –contributing to the erasure of the Green Line and threatening the future of a negotiated Two-State Solution.

While we may not all agree with the decision or ourselves choose to boycott settlements, we are united in condemning this decision. The decision to restrict pension fund holdings is an overreach beyond the specific territorial boundaries defined in E.O. 157, is a clear attempt to conflate Israeli settlements with Israel, and is a divergence from long standing bipartisan US foreign policy. As Jewish Americans who care deeply about the security and longevity of the State of Israel, we urge the Commissioner to reverse this decision.


Robert Ambaras
Rabbi Guy Austrian
Jerome Balsam
Stephen Bauer, Physician
Talia Benamy, Jewish Communal Engagement Chair, J Street NYC
Ian Benjamin
Idie Benjamin
Jim Berger
Nathaniel Berman, Brown University
Leon Bijou
Ethan Bloch, Professor, Bard College
Kenneth Bob, President, Ameinu: Liberal Values, Progressive Israel
Martin Bresler, Board member, Americans for Peace Now
Shifra Bronznick, Social Change Strategist
Dr. Jessica Brown, Co-Chair, J Street NYC
Francine Brown
Miriam Calabro
Alan H Channing, J Street NYC
Dina Charnin
Martin Cohen
Miriam Cohen
Daniel Cory
Shira Danan, Director of Communications, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Joseph Dangelo
Andy Davis
Steve Dickman
Hasia Diner, Professor, New York University
Prof. David M Elcott
Dr. Ayala Emmett, Professor Emeritus, University of Rochester
Daniel Esterman
Rick Feldman
Dan Fleshler, Board member, Americans for Peace Now
Bobbie Flowers
Cliff Fonstein
Evelyn Frankford, J St; NYJA; Malkhut
Bryony Schwartz Freij
Peter Frey, Vice-Chair, J Street Board of Directors
Cari Gardner, Vice chair, New York Progressive Action Network
Gili Getz
Daryl L Gildenblatt, MD, FACOG, Senior Attending Physician, Assistant Clinical Professor, Director Ob/Gyn Clerkship Columbia-Bassett, Bassett HealthCare, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Robin Gilman
Danny Goldberg, Board member, Americans for Peace Now
Phyllis Goldman, G&S Consultants
Miki Golod, National Director, Ameinu
Nancy H Goody
Dr. David Gordis, President Emeritus, Hebrew College
Sara Gottesman
David P. Greenberg
Rabbi Steve Gutow
Riva Hocherman
Joe Holdner
Howard Horowitz, President, Horowitz Associates, Inc. and member of Temple Israel of New Rochelle
Richard Hyman
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Vivian Kahan
Barbara Kane, PhD
Lisa Kaplan-Miller
Jesse Kasowitz, Esq
S Kaufman
Abigail Kimball
Adina Konikoff
Jonathan Kopp, J Street NYC Executive Committee
Alon Koppel
Edward Kornbluh, DDS
Dr. Helene JF de Aguilar Koster
Gil Kulick, Board member, PPI
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie
Bill Leavitt, Attorney
David Lelyveld
Libby Lenkinski
Autumn Leonard
Rachel Lerner, Director of Strategy, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Alan Levin, Director, Sacred River Healing
Stefan H Levy
Kathryn Levy, Executive Committee Member, New York Progressive Action Network
Laura Liben
David Lidov
Alexandra Lifshin
Benjamin Linder, Board Member, J Street National Board
David Linkin, Retired
Susan Lob
Arlene Mae Lundquest
Joel Magid, Board member, Ameinu
Madalyn Margoles
Susanna Margolis
Rabbi Jeffrey Marker
James Meier, Arete
Rabbi Shira Milgrom
Russell Miller
Mik Moore, Board member, Americans for Peace Now; CEO, Moore + Associates
Jo-Ann Mort, Board member, Americans for Peace Now; ChangeCommunications
Leila S Mustachi
Jonathan Nash
Luisa Niazi
Carol Nolan
Udi Ofer
Daniel Olson
Geri Palast
Kathleen Peratis, Board member, Americans for Peace Now; Jewish Currents
Letty Cottin Pogrebin, writer, activist, APN past president
Terry Pristin, J Street
Nicholas Prychodko
Leonard Quart
Steven Raber
Deborah Rand
Robin Reid, Producer
Harry Reis, Columbia Law School
Francesca Rheannon
Richard Rosen
Phyllis Rosen
Albert Rosenblatt
Daniel Rosenblum, Attorney
Bill Rosenthal, Retired Faculty, City University of New York
Mark Rosing, Physician, SBH Women's Health
Alice Ross
Brad Rothschild, Ameinu
Anya Rous, Documentary Producer
Joshua Rubin
Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips
Katherine Sanford
Ellen Sarna, Retired
Dr. Daniel Savin
Mike Schwartz
Lilach Shafir
Steve Shapiro
Roberta Shechter, DSW
Yaakov Shechter, PhD, Retired Professor Emeritus
Yona Shem-Tov
Davindranauth Shiwratan
Abe Silberstein
Ron Skolnik
Rabbi Brent Spodek, Beacon Hebrew Alliance
Alexandra Stanton
Susan Starker
David P. Stone
Alan Sussman
Stephen L Teitel
Michele Temple
Lynne Teplin
Judith Tuller, Board Member, Americans for Peace Now
Rabbi Burton Visotzky
Ron Vogl
Roberta Wallitt
Randi Weingarten, Board Member, Americans for Peace Now
Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub
David Weiser, MD
Eileen B. Weiss, Managing Director, Same Difference Interfaith Alliance
Judith Wishnia, Stony Brook University
Dr. Kenneth Wishnia, Suffolk County Community College
Eyal Yerushalmi
Michael Young, Attorney

*Professional titles and organizational affiliations are given for identification purposes only and do not indicate organizational endorsement of this open letter