Texas will get concerned in Israel’s struggle with Ben & Jerry’s over West Financial institution boycott

A view of the entrance to the ice cream parlor in the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Be’er Tuvia in southern Israel on July 21, 2021.

Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images

The struggle between Israel and Palestinians spills over to 30 US states whose laws prevent pension funds from investing in companies that refuse to do business with the Jewish state.

The most recent example concerns the socially conscious ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s, the West Bank and Texas.

Earlier this week, Ben & Jerry’s board of directors said it would no longer allow sales in areas it believes Israel should not control. The company issued a statement stating, “We believe it is inconsistent with our values ​​for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

The company, now owned by global consumer giant Unilever, has been selling its brand in Israel through a local Israeli distributor for decades. Unilever said it would seek a new deal to sell ice cream in Israel, but not in territories claimed by Palestinians for their own state.

In Israel, companies are prevented from treating customers and subsidiaries differently in what Israel calls “disputed territory” from what much of the world recognizes as Israeli territory. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett promised this week that “act aggressively” against the ice cream parlor, founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield who are Jewish and progressive.

The American flag and the Texas State Flag flutter over the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

Now Texas is getting involved.

A spokesman for Republican Governor Greg Abbott told CNBC on Tuesday evening: “Ben and Jerry’s decision to boycott parts of Israel is a shame and an insult to America’s closest allies in the Middle East.” The statement went on to say, “Unilever, the parent company of Ben and Jerry, must reverse this ill-conceived decision.”

Abbott signed a bill four years ago that would force Texas pension funds to part ways with companies boycotting Israel.

State auditor Glenn Hegar, who controls billions of dollars in assets for Texas public pension funds, has already urged his office to take action. In a statement to CNBC, he said, “I have directed my employees to determine if certain actions by Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever would trigger listing under Chapter 808 of the Texas Government Code,” the law passed in 2017.

It is also possible that sales in states with anti-boycott laws could be affected. If Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever bid for a contract with a public agency, they could be disqualified if the boycott becomes a reality.

Florida State CFO Jimmy Patronis, who controls the public pension funds, told CNBC that his office began discussing the issue Tuesday morning. “I find what is happening very worrying,” he said in a text. But he wasn’t ready to say what action could be taken.

Airbnb was the last company involved in a similar problem. In 2018, the rental site said it bans the listing of Israeli property in the West Bank, territory that the Palestinians claim they should be part of their state.

An Airbnb listing in Israel

Airbnb

But the company turned around a few months later and was now looking at listings on a “case-by-case” basis, according to a statement on its website.

Ben & Jerry’s board of directors, who have a unique agreement with parent company Unilever that allows for an oversized role in decision-making on social issues, initiated the withdrawal from Israel this week.

Following the Ben & Jerry statement, Unilever released its own on Monday saying, “We remain fully committed to our presence in Israel, where we have invested in our people, brands and business for several decades.” In addition, the company’s CEO spoke to Bennett this week. Following the interview, Israel’s new Prime Minister said: “This is an action with grave consequences, including legal consequences, and it (Israel) will take vigorous action against any boycott directed against its citizens.”

Ben & Jerry chairman Anuradha Mittal has not responded to CNBC about the implications of the decision and the possibility of divesting Unilever’s state pension funds. In a telephone interview on Thursday, Ben & Jerry’s spokesman Sean Greenwood said, “The company has nothing to add beyond the original statement,” which was released Monday.

In conversation with NBC News Mittal took action against Unilever earlier this week for making its own statement on the subject, calling it “deception”. She added, “I can’t stop thinking this is what happens when you have a board with all the women and people of color pushing to do the right thing.”

Unilever did not respond to CNBC calls or emails asking for a response to the possibility of a sale by state pension funds.

Instagram’s Tavern-Type Pizza Sensation, Jerry’s, Is Shifting Into the Bear Paw Inn

Chicago people have been visiting bars and eating what they call for decades Tavern style pizza: A thinly crusted, crispy, round cracker-eque cake cut into squares. It’s a phenomenon across the Midwest; Many – including Eater Chicago’s Ashok Selvam – argue that these are Chicago tavern-style pies are more Chicago than the ubiquitous deep dish, put aside for special occasions or tourists. Tavern-style pizza, on the other hand, is a weekday pizza that locals eat on a Friday night.

Several cakes are represented in Portland within the city limits: Neapolitan, Detroit-style Sicilian squares, and even something similar to the famous New Haven apizza. Chicago deep dish can be found in places like The Star and Via Chicago. But until Jerry Benedetto started hawking square cut cakes via InstagramIt was difficult to find a tavern style pizza in Portland outside of places like Bridge city. Benedetto’s Instagram, @JerrysPizzaPDX, became an all-time sensation among expats and pizza lovers of the Midwest, and the cake waiting list was longer than a year. But soon Benedetto will be moving to a real tavern to sell his tavern-style cakes: Jerry’s Pizza is run from the Bear Paw Inn, the Southeast Portland Bar. Willamette Week reported first. The long-term goal is for customers to be able to order drinks at the bar and pizzas from Jerry.

The magic in Benedetto’s cake starts with the crust: he cooks his well-made, crispy, but also chewy ones so that someone can pick them up and the piece stays stiff. “When I get back to Chicago, some people have too much cheese and cooked too little,” he says. “Then it’s a fatty flop; it’s disgusting. “From there, he adds a touch of his grandmother Pat’s tomato sauce as a base and just enough cheese. When Bear Paw gets going, Benedetto plans to offer homemade cakes and six typical cakes: One made with his house fennel sausage, in thinly sliced ​​fresh mushrooms and hot peppers; those topped with his house giardiniera and Italian beef; his version of a traditional supreme; a number with jalapenos, hot peppers and garlic. He will also have two liters of RC Cola in stock, a family tradition , and possibly start packing glasses from his Giardiniera to take home.

In addition, Benedetto is still chewing on how he plans to run his business. He still has a few pre-orders to process and wants to meet expectations. “I am literally a person who does everything. I’m thinking of hiring someone in two weeks, but I want to see if I can do it myself, ”he says. “What I do is not a normal brick and mortar, but … I can do it any way I want.”

Benedetto has not yet set an opening date; follow on Instagram for more details.

• • Jerry’s pizza [Instagram]
• • Chicago’s tavern-style pizza is paramount [ECHI]
• • No restaurant? No problem: chefs have found some freedom in selling meals on Instagram. [EPDX]
• • Portland’s most anticipated restaurant and bar openings for 2021 [EPDX]