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29 Oct, 2021 17:50

Ben & Jerry’s parent company loses $111mn in pension funds over Israel boycott

Ben & Jerry’s parent company loses $111mn in pension funds over Israel boycott

Ben & Jerry’s is facing monetary backlash over its Israel boycott, with the New York State Common Retirement Fund announcing it will divest equity holdings in the ice cream maker’s parent company.

“After a thorough review,” the fund said it will divest equity holdings in Unilever PLS. “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,” Tom DiNapoli, comptroller for the retirement fund, told New York Post of its decision to cut ties with the liberal Vermont-based ice-cream giant.

The boycott, the group claims, violates its own policies against the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement.

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

The massive New York retirement fund, which invests over $800 million across Israel, had previously warned the company in July that the boycott would harm its own investments in Israel. 

The boycott, which saw the company refusing to sell ice cream in the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’ of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, has faced heavy backlash from mainly conservative pundits and lawmakers, as well as numerous Israeli officials. 

The boycott also drew mockery after Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen was confronted earlier this month about the choice of areas to boycott, with the company taking a stance against Israel, but not a state like Georgia, which the co-founders have claimed has major voting rights issues spurred on by Republican lawmakers. When asked why Georgia was not boycotted by the company, Cohen replied, “I don’t know.”

“By that reasoning, we should not sell ice cream anywhere,” he said. The company’s co-founders have described themselves as “proud Jews” who simply disagree with Israel policies. 

Unilever defended the boycott in August in a letter to the New York retirement fund, according to the Post, with CEO Alan Jope saying the company employs thousands in Israel and has millions invested there, but they do not interfere in the actions of “independent” boards.

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