DeSantis pressurizes parent Unilever to force Jewish ice cream maker Ben & Jerry to lift boycott of sales in Israeli occupied territories



On July 19, popular ice cream maker Ben & Jerry, founded by two American Jews Bennet Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, took a principled stand to boycott the sales of its ice creams in Israeli occupied territories including the West Bank and East Jerusalem. However, the companies said that they would  continue to sell their ice creams in mainland Israel. This has led to Florida putting its parent company Unilever in Florida’s list “scrutinized companies.”


Companies that are placed on a scrutinized list will not get state investments such as pension funds. They will not get government contracts. The state’s decision will affect not only the ice cream maker Ben & Jerry but will also affect its parent Unilever.


The founders of Ben & Jerry endorsed the decision of boycott of sales to the disputed territories in an op-ed in The New York Times on Tuesday. They said that they were not only the founders of Ben & Jerry but were also proud Jews. Being Jewish was a part of their identity and that is how they had identified themselves throughout their lives. They added that as their company expanded internationally Israel was one of their first international markets. They said that were and that they remain to date, supporters of the state of Israel. They added that it was possible to support Israel and also oppose some of its policies and that they had also opposed some polices of the U.S. government.


Unilever CEO Alan Jope has said that it was fully committed to doing business with Israel. He said that its subsidiary has a history of social activism and made its own decision. However, it has not indicated whether it will force its subsidiary Ben & Jerry to take back its decision to boycotts sales in territories that are illegally occupied by Israel, according to international communities.


In what is seen as an attempt to pacify the large permanent Jewish population of in Florida  as well to make a stand for the Jewish State as he reportedly wants to make a bid for the 2024 presidential elections, Governor Roy DeSantis announced the decision of putting Unilever on the scrutinized list on Tuesday. Generally, GOP lawmakers do not interfere in private businesses.


Governor Roy DeSantis’ recent announcement against Ben & Jerry and its parent Unilever is also seen by some as a way to divert residents’ attention from the rising number of new infections and deaths due to the delta variant of COVID-19 in Florida.

Image Ron DeSantis

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