New York’s state pension fund on Thursday announced that it would divest its holdings in Unilever Plc, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. The move came in response to Unilever’s joining the boycott movement against Israel.
New York now joins neighboring New Jersey, as well as Arizona and the State of Florida, in boycotting the boycotter.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who manages the state’s $263 billion state Common Retirement Fund, told the NY Post, “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.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid praised New York for its decision. He stated on Twitter, “Congratulations and thanks to the State of New York for responding to our request and withdrawing $111 million from its investments in Ben & Jerry’s due to the boycott of Israel. We will continue to fight BDS and anti-Semitism everywhere and without hesitation.”
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.
Politicians and journalists alike in Israel were up in arms over the move. From the news anchors, to the pundits, to the person on the street, Israelis were all in agreement in their outrage over the decision.
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.