Texas has added Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever to a list of companies that are “boycotting Israel” over the ice cream company’s decision to stop selling its product in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The firms have 90 days from being notified that they’re on the list to reverse the settlement ban, or Texas will remove about $100 million in pension funds that are invested in Unilever.
While Ben & Jerry’s is accused of boycotting Israel, their policy only applies to illegal settlements in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the ice cream will still be sold in Israel. But Texas has a broad definition of what it considers to be boycotting the Jewish State.
Texas law defines boycotting Israel as “refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in an Israeli-controlled territory.”
There are over 30 US states with laws against the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that calls for international boycotts to put pressure on Israel over its crimes against the Palestinians. The laws prohibit states from doing business with companies and individuals that are determined to be boycotting Israel. Contractors wishing to do business with these states have to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel.
After Ben & Jerry’s announced its move to stop selling ice cream in the occupied territories in July, Israel launched a “maximum pressure” campaign to influence the US and urged states with anti-BDS laws on the books to take action.