The founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, both Jewish, are determined to fight the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s for selling ice cream in the ancient Biblical lands of Judea and Samaria, where most of the events of the post-Exodus events of the Bible took place.
In June, Unilever sold its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream business in Israel to Avi Zinger, owner of American Quality Products, who had sued Ben & Jerry’s after the company refused to sell its ice cream in Judea and Samaria. In August, a U.S. federal judge ruled for Unilever and against Ben & Jerry’s, which was trying to block the sale.
Then-defense minister Yair Lapid, citing a “huge victory” in the court, added, “We will fight delegitimization and the BDS campaign in every arena, whether in the public square, in the economic sphere or in the moral realm,” Reuters reported.
But founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield appeared on MSNBC, where they claimed Unilever had violated their merger deal signed 22 years before. “’That agreement gave authority over the social mission to the independent board of Ben & Jerry’s,” Cohen claimed. “Unilever has usurped their authority and reversed the decision that was made and we can’t allow that to happen, we can’t sit idly by.”
After the initial boycott of Unilever targeting Judea and Samaria, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) issued a warning to Unilever that they had 90 days to reverse the company’s boycott targeting Israel or else face harsh consequences, including Florida barring state pension funds holding investments in Unilever.
DeSantis stated, “By placing Ben & Jerry’s Fortune 500 parent company Unilever on our List of Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel, Florida is sending a message to corporate America that we will defend our strong relationship with the Jewish State. I will not stand idly by as woke corporate ideologues seek to boycott and divest from our ally, Israel,” as the Orlando Weekly reported.
Ash Williams, executive director & chief investment officer of the state board of administration of Florida, wrote in the letter that the board had received a July 22 letter from DeSantis that noted that Unilever’s decision was “an action that falls under Section 215.4725(1)(a), Florida Statutes (the ‘Statute’), ‘Prohibited investments by the State Board of Administration; companies that boycott Israel.’”
Williams continued, “The Statute defines a ‘boycott of Israel’ as refusing to deal, terminating business activities, or taking other actions to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories, in a discriminatory manner.”
Upon Ben & Jerry’s announcement and consistent with statute, we contacted Unilever directly to request an engagement on behalf of the SBA and to make clear that Unilever as owner of Ben & Jerry’s would be affected by Florida law. We indicated that, pursuant to the Statute, the SBA would be prohibited from further investment in Unilever and affiliated companies if they were placed on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List. … The SBA conducted an engagement call with Unilever Investor Relations on July 28, 2021 and received indication that the parent company has no current plan to prevent Ben & Jerry’s from terminating business activities in Israeli-controlled territories.