The state of Florida yesterday put Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, on its list of companies that the state will scrutinize over anti-Israeli corporate policies, according to an announcement from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Florida’s @GovRonDeSantis says @Unilever is now on its list of “Scrutinized Companies”: Says if Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t stop boycott of Israel in 90 days, it becomes subject to investment prohibition and the State of Florida will not contract with Unilever or subsidiaries. pic.twitter.com/gBgQRZXjSz
— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) August 3, 2021
That could subject the company to an investment and contract prohibition with the state.
The listing comes as Ben & Jerry’s announced it will not sell its ice-cream products in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza to protest Israeli settlement in the area.
“As a matter of law and principle, the State of Florida will not tolerate discrimination against the State of Israel or the Israeli people,” DeSantis said. “The second Ben & Jerry’s decided to discriminate against Israel, it affected Florida’s ability to make investments with its parent company.”
The Ben & Jerry’s boycott of Jewish settlements has unleashed a backlash in the U.S., with Republicans calling for a ban on Ben & Jerry’s sales, according to the New York Post.
Ben & Jerry’s joins short-term house-rental company AirBnB on Florida’s List of Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel under a law that banned the State Board of Administration from investing in companies that enact anti-Israeli policies.
Illinois has a similar law preventing discrimination against Israel. The state served notice on Unilever last week with cautionary language about the prohibition on investment for companies that engage in anti-Israel actions.
“In this case, it was a blatantly open statement made by the chairman of Ben & Jerry’s [about the Israeli boycotts] and we need to determine if Unilever deems it appropriate to walk the statement back,” said Andy Lappin, the chair of the Illinois Investment Policy Board according to Newsweek.
Unilever, while saying it stood by Israel and deplored anti-Semitism, stopped short of saying it would force Ben & Jerry’s to reverse its decision on boycotting Israeli settlements.
“We have always recognized the right of the brand and its independent Board to take decisions in accordance with its social mission,” Unilever CEO Alan Jope said. “On this decision, it was no different.”