A Republican Texas official announced yesterday that he is considering blacklisting US-based ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s following its decision to withdraw its product from settlements in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territory. “We believe that it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” explained the company earlier this week.
Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar said that he has directed his staff to review whether Ben & Jerry’s or its parent company Unilever have violated the state’s “boycott Israel” laws. “Texans have made it very clear that they stand with Israel and its people,” insisted Hegar. “We oppose actions that could undermine Israel’s economy and its people.”
He then turned to insulting Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to back up his argument. “It is worth noting that thankfully Texans have much better options for a sweet treat this summer. Blue Bell was founded in Brenham, Texas and tastes much better than the overpriced, stuck-up stuff made by a foreign-owned company started in Vermont.”
Texas is one of the 35 states that have passed laws or have executive orders that forbid companies and organisations from participating in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). While the state has blacklisted nine companies allegedly involved in the BDS movement, a search of state records conducted by the Houston Chronicle couldn’t find any existing contracts with the ice cream brand.
A spokesman for Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the company’s move “disgraceful and an insult to America’s closest ally in the Middle East. Unilever, Ben and Jerry’s parent company, must reverse this ill-conceived decision.”
The ice cream company will continue to trade with Israel under a new agreement, but will not be renewing its current licence to operate in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.