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Florida stops investing in Ben & Jerry’s parent company

The decision comes after the ice-cream firm refused to backtrack on its decision not to sell its produced in illegal Israeli settlements located on occupied Palestinian land

October 29, 2021 at 1:23 pm

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is stored in a cooler at an event in Washington, US on 20 May 2021 [Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images]

The US state of Florida will cease new investments in London-based Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s parent company, as a result of the ice-cream firm’s decision to stop selling its products in illegal settlements located in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The move comes three months after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered the State Board of Administration (SBA) to add Unilever to its list of “scrutinised companies” that boycott Israel.

During the 90-day period, no decisions were taken by the ice-cream giant to reverse its position on Israel.

“I have not seen any meaningful response from Unilever, period,” Florida’s SBA Executive Director, Ash Williams, said at a September cabinet meeting.

However, the ruling over new investments does not affect the $39 million Florida already has invested in Unilever, the Florida Politics website reported.

READ: Nike to end sales in Israeli shops

About 35 states in the US have anti-Israel boycott laws. Last month, Arizona became the first state to divest from the company over what it labelled an “anti-Semitic” move.

New Jersey followed suit, and Texas has already announced that it is taking steps to divest from Unilever following Ben & Jerry’s decision.

Ben & Jerry’s move followed a stream of reports by human rights groups and the UN, and articles by former Israeli ambassadors labelling Israel as an apartheid state. The ice-cream firm’s founders, Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, explained that the company drew a line between what they called the “democratic territory of Israel and the territories Israel occupies”, stressing that “the decision to halt sales outside Israel’s democratic borders is not a boycott of Israel.”

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]