Arizona sells Unilever bonds in Israeli move by Ben & Jerry’s

Phoenix (AP) —Arizona sells $ 93 million in Unilever bonds and subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s decides to stop selling ice cream in Israeli-occupied territories, investing in consumer products companies worldwide We plan to sell the remaining $ 50 million. The latest in a series of actions by a state with anti-Israeli boycott law.

Investment moves state Treasury Secretary Kimberly Yi announced this week Mandated by 2019 state law prohibiting Arizona government agencies from investing in or trading more than $ 100,000 with companies that boycott Israel or its territory.

Arizona appears to be the first of 35 anti-boycott or regulated states to completely withdraw from Unilever following Ben & Jerry’s actions. Illinois warned company in July It’s been 90 days since the investment committee met to change course, or it’s going to sell. Florida Other states are taking similar actions, according to the IAC For Action, the policy and legislative body of the Israeli-American Council.

Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s is owned by London-based Unilever, but maintains its own independent board of directors. Unilever said Make your own decisions about its social mission. Ben & Jerry’s announced on July 19th that it will maintain its presence in the occupied territories. “It is inconsistent with our values.”

Ben & Jerry’s decision has generated a strong reaction from Israel, I vowed to “act positively” In response to this move, it includes urging the US governor to punish the company under the Boycott Prevention Act. Arizona and 34 other states have laws banning boycotts of Israel.

US groups in favor of Israel are divided on whether it is appropriate to push Unilever back for Ben & Jerry’s decision. The Israeli-American Council has urged the governor to act through IAC For Action.

Joseph Sabag, director of IAC for Action, called on Israeli anti-Semitic boycotts and said it was important to fight them at the state level.

“The Israeli-American community is sensitive to it. We say more than the rest of the Jewish-American community, so we experience aspects of anti-Semitic national origin in a more obvious way. “I did,” Sabag said on Friday. “That’s why we are so active. It’s the children who are affected, feared, threatened and harassed in the classroom … that’s the concern of our community. is.”

However, the head of J Street, a Washington, DC-based pro-Israeli organization that supports a two-state solution, upheld Ben & Jerry’s decision and said punishing the company was a “grave danger.” ..

“It is not anti-Semitism to criticize Israeli policy or not sell ice cream in illegal settlements.” President Jeremy Benami tweeted in July.. “It’s really really a pro-Israel decision.”

Anti-boycott legislation faces court challenges, as it did after Arizona was first enacted in 2016.

NS Arizona U.S. District Court Judge Blocks Execution The proceedings were ongoing, but the legislature changed the law, effectively ending the proceedings as it only applies to contracts worth more than $ 100,000 and no longer applies to Flagstaff men. The state was ordered to pay $ 115,000 for his attorney’s fees.

In Arkansas, weekly newspaper publishers have sought to block law in the state for similar reasons.judge Dismissed the caseThe judgment that “the boycott of Israel is neither speech nor an act of expression in nature” is protected by the First Amendment.However, a split panel of three judges from the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals Revived Arkansas Times proceedings In February, “supporting or promoting an Israeli boycott is constitutionally protected … yet the law requires government contractors to refrain from such constitutionally protected activities.” I found.

Judgment is not the last word. In June, a judge in the 8th Circuit agreed to hear the case and abandoned the decisions of the three judges. They are set to hear discussions in the case later this month.

Both proceedings were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Yi sent a letter to Unilever’s investor relations department on September 2, and Ben & Jerry’s operates independently, but if the decision is not revoked, Arizona law will be Unilever. He told the company that he was obliged to sell his assets.

“I gave Ben & Jerry’s parent company Unilever PLC an ultimatum. Either reverse Ben & Jerry’s behavior or sell himself from Ben & Jerry’s to comply with Arizona law or result. We will face it, “said Republican Yee. He ran for governor and said in a statement, “They chose the latter.”

Unilever has never supported Israeli boycotts (commonly known as boycott withdrawal sanctions (BDS)) in a letter to Deputy Treasury Secretary Mark Swenson on August 2, but Ben & Jerry’s became independent. Said that it is operated. The company made no additional comments.

Arizona’s investment was in fixed income and commercial paper held by the state’s short-term bond investment fund.

Arizona law Established in 201 Revised in 6 and 2019, signed by Republican Governor Doug Ducey with widespread bipartisan support. He tweeted Ben & Jerry’s decision is “discrimination.”

“Arizona will not do business with a company that boycotts Israel. In 2016 and 2019, I signed a bill to ensure that,” the tweet said. “Arizona stands with Israel.”