Texas has placed Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever on its list of businesses that boycott Israel, thereby advancing the process by which the state would divest from both businesses.
“As with any of our listing decisions, my office, in cooperation with our research providers, carefully reviewed statements and activities by both Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever before concluding that they are suitable candidates for the Texas list,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said.
“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,” he added.
Hegar explained that the action was taken pursuant to Texas Government Code Chapter 808, which sets out the definition of what actions a company takes that constitutes an Israel boycott. This includes “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,” he said.
Texas is the fourth US state to take action against the global ice cream company in recent weeks. Arizona has completely divested from Ben & Jerry’s, and New Jersey, as well as Florida, have given the Vermont-based company 90 days to make an argument as to why their actions do not constitute a boycott of Israel or an Israeli controlled entity.
Other states are also weighing the possibility of divesting from Ben & Jerry’s, whose independent Board announced in July that in December 2022 it plans to end its contract with its Israeli franchise over the sale of its product to Israelis living over the pre-1967 lines in east Jerusalem and West Bank settlements.
Ben & Jerry’s independent Board had wanted to end any affiliation with Israel, but the CEO of Unilever and the ice cream conglomerate amended the decision, stating that they intended to enter into a contract with a new Israeli franchise that would limit sales to areas of Israel within the Green Line.
To date, however, no new franchise has been created.