Arizona to divest all Unilever holdings over Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott, state treasurer says
that it will divest all Unilever holdings in the wake of Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott.
The State of Arizona will scoop out the last of its holdings in British conglomerate Unilever PLC by Sept. 21, state treasurer Kimberly Yee announced this week.
Unilever has come under intense American criticism from several states and other organizations since its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream unit on July 18 announced that it would no longer sell its products in Israeli-controlled West Bank settlements. Critics claimed that Ben & Jerry’s founders were Jewish and joined the BDS movement, which seeks to pressure Israel via boycotts, divestiture investments, and sanctions against Israel.
The conglomerate acquired Ben & Jerry’s in 2000 under a deal in which the ice cream maker could retain an independent board and make certain decisions without Unilever‘s approval. However, Ms. Yee said in a letter to Richard Williams of Unilever‘s investor relations office in London, “the fact remains that Ben & Jerry’s is a legal subsidiary of Unilever.”
She stated in the letter that Unilever “continues be in violation Arizona law” due to the West Bank boycott.
Ms. Yee announced in a news release that Arizona had sold $93 millions of its holdings in Unilever ,, and plans to sell the remainder by the Sept. 21 deadline.
“I gave Unilever PLC , Ben & Jerry’s a ultimatum. Either reverse the action or divest from Ben & Jerry’s in order to comply with Arizona law. Or face the consequences. Ms. Yee stated that they chose the latter. “It does not matter how much investment Unilever PLC has in Israel, with Ben & Jerry’s decision to no longer sell its product in the West Bank, the companies are in violation of the law in Arizona. Arizona will not do business with companies that are attempting to undermine Israel‘s economy and blatantly disregarding Arizona’s law.”
Another American state is said to be considering moves similar to Arizona’s. According to media reports, Florida, Texas and New York are considering selling their holdings. Maryland’s Secretary Of State John B. Wobensmith told Jewish leaders that if any contracts were found with Unilever ., the state would “act accordingly”.