The state of Texas announced Thursday that it is limiting business with Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever, over the company’s decision to stop selling products in Israeli settlement communities.
Comptroller Glenn Hegar (R) said in a statement the two companies had been added to the state’s “list of companies that boycott Israel.”
Texas state law describes “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 in an Israeli-controlled territory.”
Prior to adding the companies, Hegar said his office “carefully reviewed statements and activities by both Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever.”
He added that “Texas law is clear on this issue, and my office has long supported Israel through our Israel bond holdings as well as our lists of scrutinized companies with ties to Iran and those with ties to foreign terrorist organizations.”
Earlier this month, Arizona, Florida, and New Jersey announced plans to fully divest from Ben and Jerry’s and Unilever.
Ben & Jerry’s made an announcement in July that it would stop selling its ice cream in the West Bank – which includes the Biblical lands of Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem – because continuing to do so is “inconsistent with its values.”
The Vermont-based ice cream company said in a statement on its website that it hears “the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners,” and it will not renew its agreement with its distributor to sell the ice cream in Israeli settlement communities. However, the ice cream will continue to be sold in Israel through a different arrangement.
Today, some 700,000 Israelis live in settlement communities in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. These Jewish towns, villages and cities sit on territories Israel captured from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day war. Israel claimed eastern Jerusalem during that war and considers it part of its unified capital, and the West Bank as “disputed territory” whose status should be resolved through negotiations.
Company founders, Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield said in a recent New York Times op-ed that they no longer control the company but approve of the action in Israel.
“We are also proud Jews. It’s part of who we are and how we’ve identified ourselves for our whole lives. As our company began to expand internationally, Israel was one of our first overseas markets. We were then, and remain today, supporters of the State of Israel,” the founders said. “But it’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the U.S. government.”