NY’s pension fund halts investments in Unilever over Ben & Jerry’s Israel stance

New York Jewish Week through JTA — New York State’s state pension fund will divest its holdings in Unilever in response to the July choice by the conglomerate’s affiliate Ben & Jerry’s to limit ice cream gross sales within the West Financial institution.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s announcement Thursday makes New York the fourth state to maneuver to sanction the Ben & Jerry’s company mother or father over its Israel stance, following New Jersey, Arizona and Florida. At the very least 4 different states have launched opinions investigating whether or not the Ben & Jerry’s choice might lead to sanctions on the corporate underneath state legal guidelines meant to fight the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) motion focusing on Israel.

“Our assessment of the actions of the corporate, and its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s, discovered they engaged in BDS actions underneath our pension fund’s coverage,” DiNapoli, who manages New York’s $268 billion retirement fund, mentioned in a press release to the New York Submit.

The New York state pension fund presently holds $111 million in shares of Unilever.

Marc Stern, chief authorized officer of the American Jewish Committee, praised the choice. “Comptroller DiNapoli has demonstrated that boycotting Israel has penalties. Unilever’s failure to undo Ben & Jerry’s misguided choice to cease promoting its ice cream within the West Financial institution contravenes state authorities legal guidelines throughout the US,” he mentioned in a press launch.

“Congratulations and because of the State of New York for responding to our request and withdrawing $111 million from its investments in Ben & Jerry’s as a result of boycott of Israel,” wrote Israeli Overseas Minister Yair Lapid in a press release on Twitter. “We’ll proceed to struggle BDS and antisemitism all over the place and with out hesitation,” he mentioned.

In July, DiNapoli wrote to Unilever CEO Alan Jope saying that he was “troubled and anxious” that Ben & Jerry’s would not promote ice cream in what the corporate known as “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

“If the corporate fails to reply or fails to show that it has not engaged in BDS actions, the Fund’s funding in Unilever will probably be topic to an in depth assessment and employees advice, which can embrace funding restrictions, in accordance with the Fund’s BDS coverage,” the letter mentioned.

In 2016, the fund adopted a coverage saying there will probably be penalties for firms engaged in BDS actions that might put the fund’s investments in Israel in danger.

Unilever has mentioned that, owing to its distinctive possession association with the Ben & Jerry’s board, the conglomerate has no skill to affect the ice cream maker’s “unbiased” enterprise selections. Ben & Jerry’s has mentioned that eradicating its merchandise from the West Financial institution shouldn’t be boycotting Israel.

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