This past week, Ron DeSantis, the Republican Governor of Florida, put out a statement calling on the State Board of Administration (SBA) to place Ben & Jerry’s, and in extension including its parent company Unilever, on the state’s Scrutinized Companies List.
DeSantis issued this demand to the SBA in the form of a letter addressed to the board in the wake of a Ben & Jerry’s, a popular ice cream manufacturer that has been known to mix its business with its political activism, announcement that it would no longer be selling any of its products in Samaria and Judea, or what is more commonly known as Israel’s West Bank. The confectionery company stated that the sale of any of its products in Samaria and Judea is “inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
State law in Florida forbids the state from investing in any company that joins the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to target Israel.
Support any such boycotts aimed at Israel has been outlawed in dozens of states across the U.S. as the BDS movement is Viewed as completely antisemitic by its critics.
“As you know, Florida has long had a strong relationship with the State of Israel. As a matter of law and principle, the State of Florida does not tolerate discrimination against the State of Israel or the Israeli people, including boycotts and divestments targeting Israel,” DeSantis stated back on the 22nd of July.
“It has come to my attention that Ben & Jerry’s has announced plans to remove its products and prohibit the sale of its ice cream in Judea and Samaria,” continued DeSantis. “These actions taken by Ben & Jerry’s fall squarely within the prohibited activities defined by Section 215.4725(1)(a), Florida Statutes. Ben & Jerry’s is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever, a publicly-traded company in which Florida holds multiple investments.”
“Therefore, I am requesting the State Board of Administration (SBA) immediately place Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever on the Continued Examination Companies that Boycott Israel List, and initiate the process to place Ben & Jerry’s, and by extension Unilever, on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List,” he continued.
“Should the State Board of Administration affirmatively place Unilever and its corporate entities on the Scrutinized Companies List and these companies do not cease the boycott of Israel as required by Florida law, the Board must refrain from acquiring any and all Unilever assets consistent with the law,” wrote the Governor. “These actions affirm the State of Florida’s relationship with the State of Israel and our commitment to a swift response to those who discriminate against the Israeli people.”
Gilad Erdan, the current Ambassador from Israel to the United Nations and the United States, has urged U.S. states that forbid BDS campaigns against Israel to put for punishments against Ben & Jerry’s for its actions against Israel. Erdan continued on to state that Ben & Jerry’s boycott of regions of Israel is entirely antisemitic and contributions to the “dehumanization of the Jewish people.”