On July 19th, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream made an announcement on their website—in protest of the international conflict between Israel and Palestine. This sparked U.S. controversy, resulting in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis calling on the State Board of Education 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.”
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared by our fans and trusted partners.“
“We have a long-standing partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our license that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.”
“Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in OPT, we will stay in Israel though a different arrangement. We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready.”
Unilever, the parent company to Ben & Jerry’s, is now the one feeling the Florida heat–after Ron DeSantis signed legislation stating:
Mr. Ash Williams // Executive Director – State Board of Administration to Florida
“Dear Mr. Williams, 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.“
“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. 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. Please provide an update on the status of this process to me and the other Trustees as soon as possible.“
“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. “
“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.
Sincerely, Ron DeSantis
Not only is Ron DeSantis’ legislation an infringement on [Ben & Jerry’s] free speech, but on free market capitalism.
In contrast, 33 other U.S. states have already passed similar legislation restricting government investment in companies that boycott Israeli people or businesses. These laws are modeled on the same restrictions on companies that try to discriminate against other human characteristics, such as gender or sexual orientation.
Ben & Jerry, founders of the popular ice cream brand, and far-left liberal progressives, have been extremely open about their political beliefs in the past. In the case of Israel, Ben & Jerry’s used activism to gain U.S. support with their product and business. The problem exists when boycotting a country defies State laws prohibiting discrimination. Regardless of their political ideologies, should Ben & Jerry’s have the right to free speech and free market?
In a country dealing with: mass illegal immigration–an impending economic crisis–and daily divisive, controversial, political manipulation–Why is Ron DeSantis so focused on Ice Cream Capitalists preaching progressivism? Why not instead use his legislative power to improve America instead of targeting free speech, and free market capitalism? How will selling ice cream in Israel really help our nation?