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.
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.
“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.