Illinois Divests From Unilever Over BDS Stance

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

Illinois divested its pension fund from international conglomerate Unliever due to the company’s ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling its products in the Shomron, Reuters reported.

The Illinois Investment Policy Board, which is responsible for ensuring the state’s investments align with state law, voted 7-0 after a 90-day investigation to bar state employee pension funds from holding Unilever shares. New Jersey, New York, Arizona, Florida, and other states have indicated they will take measures against Unilever.

There are 35 states that have laws that bars state investments in companies that boycott Israel and participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Unilever, as Ben & Jerry’s parent company, has said Ben & Jerry’s decision was made independently by its board, and it does not support boycott efforts. The Israeli branch of Ben & Jerry’s employs 2,000 workers.

Rabbi Shlomo Soroka, Agudath Israel of Illinois’ director of government affairs, said, “The Board’s 7-0 vote to uphold and enforce a law combating antisemitic activity, sends a message that attempts by some to delay, distort, or disregard this law will not succeed.”

Jewish Federations of North America Chair Mark Wilf called the Illinois decision an “important milestone against attempts to apply double standards and delegitimize the Jewish state.”

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