Ben & Jerry’s Israel Boycott Causes New York State to Divest $111 Million in Unilever Shares

MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 23: Ice cream is for sale in a Ben & Jerry's store on September 23, 2021 in Miami, Florida. The state of Florida is reported to be ready to restrict purchases of Unilever PLC assets starting in late October after the company's Ben & Jerry's brand …
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

New York State’s pension fund announced it will be selling its Unilever PLC shares, which total $111 million, due to the company’s subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s boycott of Israel’s occupied territories, the New York Post reports.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said Ben & Jerry’s violated his office’s policy against the boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) movement in opposition to Israel in the ice cream company’s July decision to stop selling its products in Israeli-Palestinian territories, the New York Post reports.

“After a thorough review, the New York State Common Retirement Fund will divest its equity holdings in Unilever PLC,” DiNapoli announced in a statement to the Post. “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.”

New York’s Common Retirement Fund has $263 billion and “invests more than $800 million in retirement funds in Israel,” according to the Post.

Ben & Jerry's

Co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Ben Cohen (L) and Jerry Greenfield attend the partnership launch of Ben & Jerry’s and The ONE campaign’s fight against global poverty at a Ben & Jerry’s store April 7, 2008, in Burbank, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The pension fund’s policy was set in June of 2016, according to the Post. It announced that BDS undertakings are intended to cause economic injury to Israel and, in turn, the retirement fund’s investments in Israel.

“We will be divesting those investments,” a spokesman for DiNapoli told the Post. “Ben & Jerry’s engaged in BDS activities.”

A spokesman for DiNapoli said there is no time frame for carrying out the decision to pull the funds, according to the Wall Street Journal

Ben & Jerry’s announced on July 19 that it would cease selling its ice cream in “Occupied Palestinian Territory” when its license agreement ends, Breitbart News reported. 

Following the decision, the comptroller’s Executive Director of Corporate Governance Liz Gordon sent a warning letter to Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, the New York Post reports. Gordon informed the CEO that Unilever’s subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s was participating in BDS activity in opposition to Israel. 

A view of the entrance of the ice-cream shop inside the Ben & Jerry's factory in Be'er Tuvia in southern Israel, on July 21, 2021. - Ben & Jerry's announced that it will stop selling ice cream in the Israel-occupied Palestinian territories since it was "inconsistent with our values", although it said it planned to keep selling its products in Israel. The West Bank and East Jerusalem have been under Israeli control since 1967. Roughly 475,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, in communities widely regarded as illegal under international law, alongside some 2.8 million Palestinians. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP) (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

A view of the entrance of the ice-cream shop inside the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Be’er Tuvia in southern Israel, on July 21, 2021. Ben & Jerry’s announced that it will stop selling ice cream in the Israel-occupied Palestinian territories since it was “inconsistent with our values”, although it said it planned to keep selling its products in Israel. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

“Unilever has a strong and longstanding commitment to our business in Israel. We employ nearly 2,000 people in the country across our four factories and head office, and we have invested approximately $250 million in the Israeli market over the last decade,” Jope responded in a letter to Gordon, according to the Post.

The Post reports Jope went on to add, “On this decision, it was no different. Ben & Jerry’s has also made it clear that although the brand will not be present in the West Bank from 2023, it will remain in Israel through a different business arrangement.”

On October 26, Breitbart News reported that Florida is divesting all public funds from the ice cream company. Three months prior to the decision, Gov. Ron Desantis (R) had the State Board of Administration place Unilver on its “scrutinized companies” list. 

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.