Florida is divesting all public funds from Ben & Jerry’s over the ice cream giant’s “anti-Semitic” decision to stop sales in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
The move comes three months after Governor Ron DeSantis ordered the State Board of Administration to add Ben & Jerry’s parent company Unilever to its list of “scrutinized companies” that boycott Israel. During that time, no decisions were taken by the ice cream giant to reverse the decision.
“I have not seen any meaningful response from Unilever, period,” Florida’s SBA executive director, Ash Williams, said at a September cabinet meeting. “It’s a small part of our overall portfolio as you might imagine.”
The SBA’s investments in Unilever and its subsidiaries total about $139 million.
Ben & Jerry‘s in August announced it would no longer sell ice cream in what it called the “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” presumably referring to Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Last month, Arizona became the first state to divest all public funds– amounting to more than $140 million – from Ben & Jerry‘s and its parent company Unilever over what it deemed was an “anti-Semitic” move. New Jersey has followed suit, divesting $180 million in Unilever stock. Texas has also added Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever to a list of companies that boycott Israel.
There are eight states currently investigating whether state-level anti-BDS laws are applicable over the Ben & Jerry‘s Israel boycott, the Haaretz daily reported.
Earlier this month, the eponymous founders of Ben and Jerry’s gave what was dubbed a “car-crash” interview over the anti-Israel boycott.
Ben Cohen and ice cream co-founder Jerry Greenfield were asked by the interviewer, Alexi McCammond, why the decision to boycott a state over its policies never stretched to Georgia and Texas, despite their vocal opposition to those states’ abortion and voting rights laws.
“Why do you still sell ice cream in Georgia? Texas?” McCammond asked.
Clearly stumped, Cohen, a Bernie Sanders supporter, shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know,” he said, laughing.
“You ask a really good question and I think I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit.”