“It has come to my attention that Ben & Jerry’s has announced plans to remove its products and prohibit the sale of ice cream in Judea and Samaria,” DeSantis wrote, arguing that doing so puts Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever “within the prohibited activities” under Florida state law. DeSantis asked that the SBA put Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever on “the Continued Examination Companies that Boycott Israel List” and the “Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List.”
If Ben & Jerry’s continues to not sell their products in the West Bank after being put on these lists, then “the Board must refrain from acquiring any and all Unilever assets consistent with the law,” DeSantis wrote. “These actions affirm the State of Florida’s relationship with the State of Israel and our commitment to a swift response to those who discriminate against the Israeli people.”
A spokesperson from the DeSantis administration told Fox Business that if the SBA follows through on DeSantis’ request, they “would prevent the board from buying stock in Unilever … and its corporate entities. The state would also be unable to contract with these companies unless they ended their boycott.”
B’nai Brith International tweeted “kudos” to DeSantis. “The ice cream maker must be held accountable for its #antisemitic boycott of #Israel.”
Kudos to @GovRonDeSantis for starting process to add @benandjerrys +@Unilever to the “Continued Examination Companies that Boycott Israel List.” The ice cream maker must be held accountable for its #antisemitic boycott of #Israel.https://t.co/FXCYFxMcQE
— B’nai B’rith Int’l (@BnaiBrith) July 23, 2021
Other states appear to be taking similar actions. The New York State Comptroller’s Office sent a letter to Unilever CEO Alan Jope on July 23 stating that they are “troubled and concerned” that Ben & Jerry’s “is involved in BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] activities.” Unilever has 90 days to prove that Ben & Jerry’s is not partaking in BDS activities; otherwise, the state may withdraw their pension funds from Unilever under New York’s anti-BDS law.
Pennsylvania State Representative Aaron Kaufer, a Republican, requested that state government officials enforce Pennsylvania’s anti-BDS law against Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever. He received replies stating that officials would ensure that their anti-BDS laws are being upheld.
“Unilever is feeling the heat,” journalist and author Gary Weiss tweeted. “The question is whether it believes it benefits more from standing with Jews or antisemites. Its long tradition, going back to the 1930s, is not encouraging.”