The battle against the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) economic war on Israel and the decision by Ben & Jerry’s independent board to yank its product from post-1967 Jewish communities there, is heating up.
Ben & Jerry’s announced earlier this week that it will not renew the license in 2022 for its long-time franchise owner, who refused to participate in the boycott. The global company, based in Vermont, said it will no longer sell its products in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories”.
Israeli Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations Gilad Erdan sent a letter earlier this week to the governors of 35 states with anti-BDS laws, urging them to take “appropriate action” to fight the boycott.
Most anti-BDS state legislation requires the state to stop entering into contracts with Ben & Jerry’s and possibly Unilever, or to divest from either or both.
Texas: Decision ‘Disgraceful, Insult to Closest Ally in Middle East’
A spokesperson for Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott told CNBC on Thursday, “Ben and Jerry’s decision to boycott parts of Israel is disgraceful and an insult to America’s closest ally in the Middle East.”
Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced the same day that Texas may divest from Ben & Jerry’s parent company Unilever, in response to the boycott.
“Following recent developments, I’ve directed my staff to determine whether any specific action has been taken by Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever that would trigger a listing under Chapter 808 of the Texas Government Code,” Hegar said in a statement.
“If it is determined that Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever has engaged in any activities proscribed under Chapter 808, my office will take all appropriate and required actions,” he said.
Florida Threatens Divestment from Ben & Jerry’s, Unilever
Florida state officials are likewise discussing possible divestment from Unilever in response to the “socially conscious” decision by Ben & Jerry’s to end its ice cream sales in Judea and Samaria.
In a letter sent Thursday to Ben & Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy, Florida state CFO Jimmy Patronis wrote, “It is my belief that Ben & Jerry’s brazen refusal to do business in Israel will result in your placement on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List.”
If placed on the list, the State of Florida will be “prohibited from investing in Ben & Jerry’s or its parent company, Unilever,” Patronis wrote.
Texas Have ‘Better Option for Sweet Treat’
“Texas Government Code Chapter 808 defines “boycott Israel” as “refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or an Israeli-controlled territory,” Heger said.
“As with any of our listing decisions, my office, in cooperation with our research providers, will carefully review statements and actions made by Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever to establish if either entity is a suitable candidate for the Texas list.
“Texans have made it very clear that they stand with Israel and its people. We oppose actions that could undermine Israel’s economy and its people. I wish to thank Representative Phil King for his ongoing support of these efforts. My office has a long history of supporting Israel through our bond holdings and the Comptroller’s list of scrutinized companies with ties to Iran, as well as those with ties to foreign terrorist organizations,” he said.
“I would also note that Texans have better options for a sweet treat this summer. Blue Bell was founded in Brenham, Texas, and, for my money, tastes much better than the stuck-up stuff made by a foreign-owned company started in Vermont,” Heger added.
The Texas pension fund is worth more than $100 million, according to Bloomberg. Unilever is included in its portfolio.
The Ben & Jerry’s Israel franchise, with its factory in Be’er Tuvia, has been operating in the Jewish State for more than 34 years.
Israeli Prime Minister: ‘Not Cool to Side with Hamas’
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told a visiting delegation of ambassadors to the United States and United Nations that most consumers “don’t think it’s cool to side with Hamas.”
Bennett warned that “anyone who thinks of turning the boycott of the State of Israel into a matter of marketing or branding will find that it was the worst business decision they have made.
“Consumers, certainly in Israel, but also in the United States and other countries, don’t think it’s cool to side with Hamas.” “We are using all means we have to act against this, including legal means,” Bennett said.
The delegation came to Israel with Ambassador Erdan in cooperation with the American Zionist Movement and March of Life. The ambassadors received security briefings on Israel’s northern and southern borders, meeting with residents of the areas as well.
Among the countries whose representatives took part in the trip were Australia, Argentina, Ukraine, Kenya, Guatemala, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Dominican Republic, Tonga and Bhutan.