New York pension fund suspends investments in Ben & Jerry’s parent company over Israel’s stance


(New York Jewish Week via JTA) – The New York state pension fund will divest its stake in Unilever in response to the July decision by conglomerate subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s to restrict ice cream sales in the West Bank.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s announcement on Thursday made New York the fourth state to sanction Ben & Jerry’s parent company for its position in Israel, after New Jersey, Arizona and Florida. At least four other states have launched reviews Investigate whether Ben & Jerry’s move could result in sanctions against the company under state laws designed to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel.

“Our review of the activities of the company and its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s revealed that they were engaged in BDS activities as part of the policy of our pension fund,” said DiNapoli, who manages the pension fund of New York $ 268 billion, in a statement. declaration at the New York Post.

The New York State Pension Fund currently owns $ 111 million in Unilever shares.

Marc Stern, legal director of the American Jewish Committee, welcomed the decision. “Controller DiNapoli has shown that the boycott of Israel has consequences. Unilever’s failure to reverse Ben & Jerry’s erroneous decision to stop selling ice cream in the West Bank violates US state government laws, ”he said. said in a press release.

“Congratulations and thanks to New York State for responding to our request and withdrawing $ 111 million from its investments in Ben & Jerry’s due to the boycott of Israel,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid wrote in a press release on Twitter. “We will continue to fight BDS and anti-Semitism everywhere and without hesitation,” he said.

In July, DiNapoli wrote to Unilever CEO Alan Jope saying he was “troubled and worried” that Ben & Jerry’s would no longer sell ice cream in what the company called the “occupied Palestinian territory”.

“If the company does not respond or demonstrate that it has not engaged in BDS activities, the Fund’s investment in Unilever will be subject to detailed review and staff recommendations, which may include restrictions investment, in accordance with the Fund’s BDS policy, “the letter read.

In 2016, the fund adopted a Politics saying that there will be consequences for companies engaged in BDS activities that would endanger the fund’s investments in Israel.

Unilever said that due to its single ownership agreement with the board of directors of Ben & Jerry’s, the conglomerate has no ability to influence the “independent” business decisions of the ice cream maker. Ben & Jerry’s has said pulling its products out of the West Bank does not boycott Israel.

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