Arizona's state treasurer divests all state funds from Ben & Jerry's for 'anti-Semitic' boycott of Israel
Ben & Jerry’s described Israel as 'Occupied Palestinian Territory'
Arizona is divesting all public funds from Ben & Jerry’s over the company's boycott against Israel, state Treasurer Kimberly Yee announced Tuesday.
"As Arizona Treasurer, I've divested all state funds from Ben & Jerry's for boycotting Israel," Yee tweeted. "Israel is and will continue to be a major trade partner of AZ. #IStandWithIsrael and I will not allow taxpayer dollars to go towards anti-Semitic, discriminatory efforts against Israel."
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Ben & Jerry’s, the Vermont-based ice cream company that supports left-wing issues, announced in July that it would not be renewing its contract with its licensee in Israel, which the company described as "Occupied Palestinian Territory."
Yee sent a letter Thursday to parent company Unilever PLC saying it was actively boycotting Israel due to the actions of its subsidiary and that such a boycott would be in direct violation of Arizona statutes.
Arizona law states that a public entity or public fund may not enter a contract or directly invest with a person or company that is engaged in boycotting Israel, the state treasurer's office said in a press release.
"I gave Unilever PLC, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, an ultimatum: reverse the action of Ben & Jerry’s or divest itself of Ben & Jerry’s to come into compliance with Arizona law or face the consequences. They chose the latter," Yee said in the release.
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"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," she added. "Arizona will not do business with companies that are attempting to undermine Israel’s economy and blatantly disregarding Arizona’s law."
Arizona’s investments in Unilever were reduced from $143 million as of June 30 to $50 million Tuesday and will be reduced to zero by Sept. 21, the press release stated.