Florida could divest from Ben & Jerry’s mum or dad over Israel boycott

Florida’s governor mentioned the US state received’t put any cash into Unilever until the corporate’s Ben & Jerry’s subsidiary reverses a choice to cease promoting ice cream within the occupied West Bank.

Florida received’t put any state cash into the mum or dad firm of Ben & Jerry’s until it reverses a choice to cease promoting ice cream within the occupied West Bank and contested East Jerusalem, Governor Ron DeSantis mentioned Tuesday.

The Republican governor mentioned the State Board of Administration (SBA) added London-based Unilever to its listing of “scrutinized companies” that boycott Israel. This implies that if Ben & Jerry’s place on Israel is just not reversed in 90 days, Florida won’t spend money on or contract with Unilever or its subsidiaries.

“As a matter of law and principle, the state of Florida will not tolerate discrimination against the state of Israel or the Israeli people,” DeSantis mentioned in a information launch. “I will not stand idly by as woke corporate ideologues seek to boycott and divest from our ally, Israel.”

The determination, much like these in different states, comes after Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s introduced final month that it’ll cease promoting its merchandise in territories sought by the Palestinians.

The firm’s founders, Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, mentioned in a current New York Times opinion piece that they not management the corporate however approve of the motion in Israel as reflecting their progressive values. The firm has a protracted historical past of advocating for social justice.

“We are also proud Jews. It’s part of who we are and how we’ve identified ourselves for our whole lives. As our company began to expand internationally, Israel was one of our first overseas markets. We were then, and remain today, supporters of the State of Israel,” the founders mentioned. “But it’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the U.S. government.”

Unilever’s 400 manufacturers embrace all kinds of acquainted client items corresponding to Dove private care merchandise, Lipton tea, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Sunlight cleaning soap and, after all, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Unilever CEO Alan Jope mentioned final week that Unilever is “fully committed” to doing enterprise with Israel regardless of Ben & Jerry’s determination on the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In an e mail Tuesday, Unilever mentioned it employs greater than 2,000 folks in Israel and the corporate “rejects completely and repudiates unequivocally any form of discrimination or intolerance”.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in any society,” the corporate mentioned, including that Ben & Jerry’s will proceed promoting ice cream in components of Israel “through a different business arrangement”.

Florida officers say the corporate advised them in a name Wednesday that there are not any plans to vary Ben & Jerry’s stance on Israel. It wasn’t instantly clear what sorts of investments or contracts Florida presently has with Unilever or its subsidiaries.

“We’ll continue working with the SBA to ensure Florida law is upheld for those who target our friends in Israel,” mentioned Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief monetary officer.

Israel doesn’t differentiate between the West Bank settlements and the remainder of its territory. When home-rental firm Airbnb introduced in 2018 that it could not listing properties within the West Bank, Israel harshly condemned the move and finally pressured the corporate into cancelling the choice.

Israel’s ambassador to the United States and United Nations, Gilad Erdan, just lately despatched a letter to the governors of 35 US states urging them to punish Unilever beneath anti-boycott legal guidelines corresponding to that in Florida.

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