Arizona Dumps Bonds After Ben & Jerry’s Stops Selling In Occupied Territories : NPRSeptember 12, 2021
PHOENIX — Arizona has sold off $93 million in Unilever bonds and plans to sell the remaining $50 million it has invested in the global consumer products company over subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling its ice cream in Israeli-occupied territories, the latest in a series of actions by states with anti-Israel boycott laws.
The investment moves state Treasurer Kimberly Yee announced this week were mandated by a 2019 state law that bars Arizona government agencies from holding investments or doing more than $100,000 in business with any firm that boycotts Israel or its territories.
Arizona appears to be the first of 35 states with anti-boycott laws or regulation to have fully divested itself from Unilever following Ben & Jerry’s actions. Illinois warned the company in July that it had 90 days after its investment board met to change course or it too would sell. Florida and other states have taken similar action, according to IAC For Action, the policy and legislative arm for the Israeli-American Council.
While Ben & Jerry’s, which is based in Vermont, is owned by London-based Unilever, it maintains its own independent board, which Unilever said makes its own decision on its social mission. Ben & Jerry’s announced on July 19 that maintaining its presence in the occupied territories was “inconsistent with our values.”
Ben & Jerry’s decision brought a strong reaction from Israel, which vowed to “act aggressively” in response to the move, including by urging U.S. governors to punish the company under anti-boycott laws. Arizona and 34 other states have laws against boycotts of Israel.
U.S. groups that support Israel are split on whether pushing back on Unilever for Ben & Jerry’s decision is appropriate. The Israeli-American Council urged…