New Jersey plans to divest investments in the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, Unilever, after an internal investigation found the ice cream company sought to boycott Israel, the state Division of Investment said on Tuesday, according to The New Jersey Globe.
Unilever North America, which is based in Englewood Cliffs, will lose New Jersey as an investor following Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling ice cream in Judea and Samaria.
“No pension fund assets may be invested in the company, and DOI shall take appropriate action to sell or divest any existing pension fund investments,” said the director of the New Jersey Division of Investment, Shoaib Khan.
Khan said that the division worked with ISS, an independent consultant, to review the actions taken by Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever “to determine whether such actions constituted a boycott of Israel or companies operating in Israel or Israeli-controlled territory.”
“Following this review, the division reached a preliminarily determination that Unilever’s actions did in fact constitute such a boycott and sent a letter to Unilever notifying the company of its provisional determination,” Khan said.
Uniliver has 90 days to appeal the decision.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr., who sponsored the anti-boycott law with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, said the state law works.
“Our anti-BDS law was one of the first in the nation to use the power of state investment decisions to remove support for businesses that boycott Israel,” said Kean, as quoted by The New Jersey Globe. “The announcement by Treasury that state investment will be prohibited in the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s following a review we requested pursuant to the law we enacted is yet another example that the process works as intended.”
“Our law sends the clear message that New Jersey will not tolerate anti-Semitism and we won’t financially support businesses that target Israel,” Kean stated. “There are plenty of businesses that don’t engage in BDS activities where New Jersey’s $90 billion pension fund can be invested to the benefit of our public workers.”
Unilever caused an uproar with its controversial July 19 announcement that it will stop selling the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Judea and Samaria.
New Jersey’s announcement follows the state of Arizona’s decision last week to divest from all investments in Unilever following its boycott of Judea and Samaria.
In addition, a number of supermarket chains have announced that they will no longer stock Ben & Jerry's products following the controversial decision. They include Glatt Express Supermarket, Seasons, Morton Williams Supermarkets, Gristede’s Supermarkets, and others.
The company’s founders, Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, said in a New York Times opinion piece that they no longer control the company but approve of the move to stop selling the ice cream in Judea and Samaria.