Florida could boycott Ben & Jerry's over ice cream company's decision not to sell in occupied Palestinian territories


Florida's top politicians will weigh boycotting Ben & Jerry's after the ice cream company moved to stop selling in occupied Palestinian territory. - PHOTO VIA RON DESANTIS/TWITTER
  • Photo via Ron DeSantis/Twitter
  • Florida's top politicians will weigh boycotting Ben & Jerry's after the ice cream company moved to stop selling in occupied Palestinian territory.

Florida could place Ben & Jerry’s on a “scrutinized” companies list that prohibits government contracts or investments, because the ice-cream maker plans to stop doing business in territories it believes Israel shouldn’t control.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Thursday advised Ben & Jerry’s and its London-based parent company Unilever that Florida would be prohibited from investing in either company. The companies would also become ineligible to enter into or renew contracts with the state or local governments.

“Florida law prohibits the state from investing in companies that discriminate against Israel by refusing to deal with or terminate business activities in a discriminatory matter,” Patronis wrote to Ben & Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy.

Patronis added that he intends to raise the issue at a Sept. 21 state Cabinet meeting. Patronis, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody serve as trustees of a board that oversees the state pension fund. Similar action was briefly taken by the State Board of Administration in January 2019 against the home-sharing platform Airbnb when the company delisted about 200 West Bank properties. The state ban was lifted a few months later when Airbnb changed its policies.

Unilever this week announced plans to seek a new deal to sell the Ben & Jerry’s brand in Israel outside of territories that Palestinians claim as their own.

“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” Ben & Jerry’s announced. “We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”

A statement from Unilever called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “a very complex and sensitive situation” and said the company remains “fully committed to our presence in Israel.”

Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly newsletters, and consider supporting this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you Central Florida news, and every little bit helps.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.