ECUADOR – Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott row is getting thicker by the day, threatening the existence of the brand in countries with strong ties with Israel.
In Ecuador for instance, El Rosado Group, which owns one of the largest supermarket chains in the country with more than 180 stores, has taken the decision to withdraw from all its businesses all ice cream manufactured by Unilever.
According to the company, the decision was prompted by Ben & Jerry’s statement that said the company believes it is inconsistent with its values “for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).”
Unilever which owns the brand appeared to support the decision in its statement that read: “We have always recognised the right of the brand and its independent board to take decisions about its social mission. We also welcome the fact that Ben & Jerry’s will stay in Israel.”
The Israeli government has already promised a ‘strong response,’ and as a part of this urged US states with ant- BDS laws to take action against Unilever.
Yair Lapid, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, tweeted, “Over 30 states in the United States have passed anti-BDS legislation in recent years. I plan on asking each of them to enforce these laws against Ben & Jerry’s. They will not treat the State of Israel like this without a response.”
US sucked into the Ben & Jerry’s row
The US being a major ally of Israel has been sucked into the row with the state of Texas reported to be one of the states looking into the Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott row.
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar issued a statement last week saying he has directed staff to determine whether any specific action has been taken by Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever that would trigger a listing under Chapter 808 of the Texas Government Code.
Texas Government Code Chapter 808 defines “boycott 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.
“If it is determined that Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever has engaged in any activities proscribed under Chapter 808, my office will take all appropriate and required actions,” Hegar said.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has also called on the State Board of Administration (SBA) to immediately place Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever on the Continued Examination Companies that Boycott Israel List and initiate the process to place both companies on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List.
If Unilever is indicted, in about a dozen states, state employees’ pension funds will be barred from investing in Unilever.
In many other states, government entities will be barred from buying goods or services from Unilever and if it turns out that the Palestinian Authority contacted Ben & Jerry’s or its officers and asked them to boycott, criminal penalties would be available against Unilever.
Several progressive Jewish organizations have however called on 33 governors of states with anti-BDS laws to not take legal action against Ben & Jerry’s or its parent company Unilever over its decision to stop selling ice cream in Israeli settlements.
In a letter, the progressive groups rejected allegations that the move is a boycott of Israel, an endorsement of the BDS movement, or an act of antisemitism.
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