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9 Sep, 2021 15:52

Arizona divests from Ben & Jerry’s to protest company's ‘antisemitic’ decision to stop selling in Palestinian territory

Arizona divests from Ben & Jerry’s to protest company's ‘antisemitic’ decision to stop selling in Palestinian territory

The state of Arizona has divested from Ben and Jerry’s over what it calls an “antisemitic” and “discriminatory” boycott of Israel.

“As Arizona’s Chief Banking and Investment Officer, I stand with Israel and I will not allow taxpayer dollars to go towards antisemitic, discriminatory efforts against Israel,” Treasurer Kimberly Yee said this week. 

Arizona is reportedly pulling a $143 million investment from the ice cream giant’s parent company, Unilever. 

Ben and Jerry’s, known for being a company that often takes political stances, previously announced it was changing its partnership Israel franchise in protest over it continuing to sell in the West Bank. In its announcement, the company said it would determine a “different arrangement” for continuing to do business in Israel. 

Arizona’s investment was lowered from $143 million to $50 million and will completely end this month. Though the Vermont-based ice cream company has denied its decision amounts to an outright Israel boycott, it made its politics clear, referring to the West Bank and Gaza as “Occupied Palestinian Territory” in the July statement announcing the decision. 

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A company spokesperson told AZCentral that “we are not boycotting Israel,” since the products will still be available in Israel through a new arrangement.

Arizona state entities will now be prohibited from investing in Ben and Jerry’s. 

“Arizona law states that a public state entity may not invest monies with an entity that boycotts Israel,” the state treasurer said of Ben and Jerry’s and their parent company, Unilever. 

Unilever has defended Ben and Jerry’s “social mission,” though it was sure to recognize the decision as one being made by the ice-cream company's “independent board.”

“Ben & Jerry’s was acquired by Unilever in 2000. As part of the acquisition agreement, we have always recognized the right of the brand and its independent board to take decisions about its social mission,” they said. 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has referred to the Ben and Jerry’s boycott as “economic terrorism,” and others have pushed back as well. An Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldier even sued the company after its announcement, for depriving him of his “preferred dessert.”

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