Arizona divests from Ben & Jerry’s after boycott of OPT

Arizona divests from Ben & Jerry’s parent company after decision to stop illegal Israeli settlement sales
2 min read
09 September, 2021
Ben & Jerry's decision to pull out of occupied Palestine territories is seen as a direct violation of Arizona's anti-BDS laws.
Arizona's treasurer told Unilever, Ben & Jerry's parent company, to reverse the decision or to divest itself from the ice cream company [Getty]

Arizona has divested all public funds from Ben & Jerry’s parent company Unilever following the ice cream maker’s decision to freeze sales in the occupied Palestinian territories.  

Arizona's Treasurer Kimberly Yee announced Tuesday that the state was withdrawing public funds from Unilever by 21 September, which amounted to $143 million as of June 2021. 

The action was taken after Ben & Jerry’s decided to stop sales at illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which was seen as a violation of the state’s anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) laws. 

"Arizona will not do business with companies that are attempting to undermine Israel's economy and blatantly disregarding Arizona's law," Yee said. 

"I stand with Israel, and I will not allow taxpayer dollars to go toward antisemitic, discriminatory efforts against Israel," she added, emphasising her role as Arizona's chief banking and investment officer.

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Arizona’s anti-boycott law prohibits state contracts with and state investments in entities that boycott Israel or territories occupied in Israel. 

The southwestern US state is one of eight known to have investigated whether state anti-BDS laws apply to the ice cream company and one of 21 states to explicitly include settlement boycotts as part of their respective definitions of what constitutions a boycott of Israel. 

Ben & Jerry’s maintain that their decision is not a boycott of Israel, as it will continue to “stay in Israel through a different arrangement” and only suspend sales in occupied territories. 

The move to halt ice cream sales, announced in July 2021, was met with praise and scornful criticism. 

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Ben & Jerry’s decision was “antisemitic” and a “disgraceful capitulation...to all that is evil in the anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish discourse.” 

Pro-Palestine activists hailed Ben & Jerry’s decision to pull out of illegal settlements, which have been condemned by the UN as unlawful.