Underdog Democratic candidate for governor Tom Suozzi is getting in his last licks in the race — slamming incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul over Ben & Jerry’s.
Specifically, says Suozzi, Hochul has failed to take action against the Vermont-founded, ubiquitous ice cream manufacturer and its parent company from doing business with New York for allegedly violating an executive order against anti-Israel activities.
“Kathy Hochul has a pattern and practice of making bold pronouncements and then not following through,” said Suozzi, the Long Island congressman and former Nassau County executive challenging favorite Hochul in the June 28 Democratic primary along with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
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The Hochul administration — via the state Office of General Services — sent a notice to parent firm Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s in November in response to its refusal to sell its ice cream products in Israel-controlled disputed territories such as the West Bank, and asked why it shouldn’t be put on the state’s list of firms participating in BDS.
Suozzi said the foot-dragging is inexcusable.
“She said she would give Unilever 90 days to respond and would then act to combat BDS. It’s now been 200 days. Her empty words ring hollow after failing to follow through,” Suozzi said. “She said she would stand up for Israel against Unilever — BDS. Actions matter more than words.”
Suozzi continued, “As governor, I will take swift action against any company or person that promotes BDS or anti-Semitism. How do you know I will do it? Because I’ve done it.”
A recent letter signed by 16 Jewish organizations also rapped Hochul for failing to enforce the BDS law.
Under Executive Order No. 157, the state must divest from any company that engages in the BDS movement.
Hochul, through her press office and campaign, had no immediate comment.
But Hochul’s office recently told The Post it was still reviewing information from Unilever/B & J’s claim that they were not in violation of New York’s anti-BDS edict.
“Governor Hochul has always been a steadfast supporter of Israel,” said Hochul spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays.
“Since the initial response [from Unilever/B & J’s] did not include important clarifying information central to formulating a determination under the Executive Order, last month we requested additional clarification and information to make an evaluation under the terms of the Executive Order.”
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli last October announced that he had begun withdrawing $111 million in pension funds from Unilever over the B & J boycott in the West Bank — giving the governor ammo to follow suit in terms of contracts with state agencies.
Last December, Unilever sent a letter claiming not to be in violation of New York’s executive order, saying the parent firm “has never expressed any support for the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions Movement” against the Jewish state.
Unilever also told state officials that its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s “has also stated publicly that its action is not part of the BDS movement” and B & J’s products “will remain in Israel and continue to be available in Israel today.”
In a May 6 response letter, Bradley Allen, OGS’s deputy commissioner and counsel, requested more information from Unilever vice president David Schwartz to determine whether the parent firm and B & J’s violated the executive order.