Arizona to Become First U.S. State to Fully Divest from Ben & Jerry's over Company's Boycott of Israel

Amanda Casanova

Arizona will be the first U.S. state to fully divest from Ben & Jerry’s after the ice cream company decided to stop selling its products in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee said in a press release on Tuesday that the state will divest because Ben & Jerry’s has “violated Arizona’s law by boycotting Israel.”

According to CBN News, Arizona will divest a total of $143 million from Ben & Jerry’s parent company Unilever by Sept. 21.

“Israel is and will continue to be a major trade partner of Arizona,” Yee said. “As Arizona’s Chief Banking and Investment Officer, I stand with Israel, and I will not allow taxpayer dollars to go towards anti-Semitic, discriminatory efforts against Israel.”

Earlier this year, Ben & Jerry’s announced it would not sell ice cream in what it calls “occupied Palestinian territory.”

About 700,000 Israelis live in communities in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Previously, Israel had captured those territories during the 1967 Six-Day war. Israel claimed eastern Jerusalem as part of its unified capital and decided that the West Bank was “disputed territory.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a possible future independent state and eastern Jerusalem as their capital.

The founders of Ben & Jerry’s, Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, have previously said they approve of the decision to stop selling ice cream in the territories. Neither Cohen nor Greenfield control the Ben & Jerry’s company any longer.

“We are also proud Jews,” the founders said in a statement. “It’s part of who we are and how we’ve identified ourselves for our whole lives. As our company began to expand internationally, Israel was one of our first overseas markets. We were then, and remain today, supporters of the State of Israel, but it’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the U.S. government.”

Photo courtesy: ©Hybrid Storytellers/Unsplash

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.