There is more political fallout for Ben & Jerry’s decision to join the Israel boycott movement. Florida is now the latest U.S. state to say that it plans to impose financial sanctions on Ben & Jerry’s for doing so. Florida follows Arizona which recently made the same move.
And earlier the state of New Jersey began to divest itself of its $50 million invested in the company.
In July, Ben & Jerry’s announced a new policy regarding the sale of their products in Israel. The company said that it had told its local Israeli franchisee that they would no longer allow their products to be sold in what Ben & Jerry’s describes as “occupied Palestinian territory.” Basically, this refers to any town or area in what the world calls the West Bank.
Since the Israeli company refused to implement the ban, Ben & Jerry’s parent company Unilever said that it would not renew their contract when it ends in another year from now.
But don’t boycott the local Ben & Jerry’s in Israel. None of this is their fault and the company needs to continue to make as much money as possible before Unilever, the parent company, ends it license to manufacture the ice cream. When that happens, many Israelis currently employed at their factory may lose their jobs.
When the announcement was made, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet issued a condemnation stating, “There are many ice cream brands, but only one Jewish state. Ben & Jerry’s has decided to brand itself as the anti-Israel ice cream. This decision is morally wrong and I believe that it will become clear that it is also commercially wrong.”
The Miami Herald reports that Ash Williams, executive director and chief investment officer of the State Board of Administration of Florida, said Tuesday that he anticipates Unilever will be added to what is known as Florida’s list of “scrutinized companies that boycott Israel.” If a company is included on this, then any state investments and contracts with them are prohibited under Florida State law.
Ben & Jerry’s Israel CEO and owner Avi Singer said in response to the news, “The State of Florida has also entered the list of states that are clearly and decisively working against the boycott of the State of Israel and its citizens. Ice cream is not part of politics and Ben & Jerry’s Israel will continue to sell throughout the country and employ hundreds of workers living in the south.”
Arizona divested from Uniliver in accordance with a 2019 state law that bars Arizona government agencies from holding investments or doing more than $100,000 in business with any firm that boycotts Israel or its territories.
On her state’s move, Arizona state treasurer Kimberly Yee said at the time that “Arizona created a national movement holding companies accountable for boycotting Israel by divesting public funds from woke companies. Israel is and will continue to be a major trade partner of Arizona and I will not allow taxpayer dollars to go towards anti-Semitic, discriminatory efforts against Israel.”