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New Jersey threatens to divest from Ben & Jerry’s over Israel settlements pullout

September 15, 2021 at 1:34 pm

Ben&Jerry’s ice cream in Jerusalem on July 20, 2021 [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images]

The US state of New Jersey warned yesterday that it will consider divesting funds Ben & Jerry’s, along with its parent company, Unilever, as a result of the ice-cream firms decision to stop selling ice cream in the illegal settlements located in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“No pension fund assets may be invested in the company, and DOI shall take appropriate action to sell or divest any existing pension fund investments,” said the Director of the New Jersey Division of Investment, Shoaib Khan.

Khan said that the division is working with an independent consultant to review the actions taken by Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever “to determine whether such actions constituted a boycott of Israel or companies operating in Israel or Israeli-controlled territory.”

“Following this review, the division reached a preliminary determination that Unilever’s actions did in fact constitute such a boycott and sent a letter to Unilever notifying the company of its provisional determination,” added Khan.

In a letter to the British-based company, the state’s Treasury Department warned Unilever it had 90 days to prove it had not engaged in a boycott that involved Israel or Israeli-occupied territories before any divestment action is taken.

READ: Israel must change tactics against BDS, says ambassador

The global ice cream brand announced in July that it would be ending the sale of its products in settlements based in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

New Jersey is one of seven states that are either in the process of divesting from Unilever or considering the move. Other cities include New York, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, Maryland and Rhode Island, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency.

Following the backlash, Ben & Jerry’s founders stated that they are “proud Jews”, that Israel was one of their first overseas markets and that they are “supporters of the State of Israel”.

However, they conveyed in an opinion piece published by the New York Times: “It’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the US government.”

Ben & Jerry's to freeze ice-cream sales in West Bank settlements - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Ben & Jerry’s to freeze ice-cream sales in West Bank settlements – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]