Just days after a Texas Senate bill removed curriculum requirements for people of color and women, the state is now also considering boycotting Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for support of the business to the Palestinians.
Earlier this week, the board of directors of the historically socially conscious company released a statement saying it was “inconsistent” with Ben & Jerry’s values to continue selling ice cream in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and areas disputed East Jerusalem.
The company aims to strike a new deal with another distributor to continue selling in Israel – but not in the territory the Palestinians claim for their own state, the statement noted.
State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who controls billions of dollars in assets for the state’s public pension funds, said he quickly asked his office to determine what action he could take against the company. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law four years ago that would force Texas pension funds to withdraw from any business boycotting Israel, though Ben & Jerry’s clearly aren’t refusing to sell in the country, only in the territories busy.
“I have asked my staff to determine whether a specific action taken by Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever would trigger a listing under this law,” Hegar said in a statement. If the company, which is owned by Unilever, is found to be in violation of state law, “my office will take all appropriate and required action,” he added, which would likely involve divestment or withdrawal. boycott of any investment in the company.
Hegar did not disclose whether state pensions currently hold any stake in the ice cream company.
Florida is also considering some sort of sanction against the ice cream company, founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, both Jewish and progressive.
New Israeli President Isaac Herzog called the company’s actions “a new form of terrorism.”
Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, said Thursday that the company “remains fully engaged in our business in Israel.” The independent board of directors of the ice cream company has the power to make such decisions on its own as part of its long-standing acquisition agreement with Unilever, he explained.
An Abbott representative called Ben & Jerry’s decision “shameful.”
Cuts included Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the work of the late United Farmworkers leader Cesar Chavez, the Emancipation Proclamation, Susan B. Anthony’s writings on women’s suffrage, and “The history of the Amerindians”. He also dropped the obligation to teach white supremacy, including racist murderer Ku Klux Klan and “the ways in which it is morally wrong.”
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