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Florida warns it may drop Ben & Jerry’s parent company over West Bank ban

Trucks are parked at the Ben & Jerry's ice-cream factory in the Be'er Tuvia Industrial area, July 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Trucks are parked at the Ben & Jerry's ice-cream factory in the Be'er Tuvia Industrial area, July 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — Florida won’t put any state money into the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s unless it reverses a decision to stop selling ice cream in contested parts of Israel, Governor Ron DeSantis says.

The Republican governor says the State Board of Administration added London-based Unilever to its list of “scrutinized companies” that boycott Israel. This means that if Ben & Jerry’s position on Israel is not reversed in 90 days, Florida will not invest in or contract with Unilever or its subsidiaries.

“As a matter of law and principle, the state of Florida will not tolerate discrimination against the state of Israel or the Israeli people,” the Republican governor says today in a news release. “I will not stand idly by as woke corporate ideologues seek to boycott and divest from our ally, Israel.”

The decision, similar to those in other states, comes after Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s announced last month that it will stop selling its products in Israeli controlled-territory sought by the Palestinians such as the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The company’s founders, Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, said in a recent New York Times opinion piece that they no longer control the company but approve of the action in Israel as reflecting their progressive values. The company has a long history of advocating for social justice.

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