According to a Dec. 21 press release from state Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc. and its parent company Unilever PLC have been added to a list of companies that the Treasurer’s Office restricts investments and contracts with due to their anti-Israel activity.
The action, though, isn’t based on the treasurer’s personal whim, but is in line with a state statute that prohibits “the North Carolina Retirement Systems or the Department of State Treasurer from investing in any company engaged in a boycott of Israel.”
Folwell’s press statement noted that they made the move because they became aware of a boycott against Israel by the ice cream company. Consequently, “Treasurer Folwell ordered the divestment of $40 million in Unilever assets.” He also directly prohibted any local governments and state agencies from contracting with Ben & Jerry’s.
“We have policies in place per state law that dictate how we should proceed on any holdings in the retirement system of companies that boycott Israel and their affiliates,” Folwell said. “We will follow our policies and the law. This is particularly important in this case as we have witnessed the atrocities perpetrated against the Israeli people. There is no place for antisemitism in this state or this country.”
The release said that the NC Retirement System, which Folwell manages, provides benefits (both retirement and savings) for 1 million current and retired state employees, including teachers and law enforcement. The pension plan investments, which no longer include Ben & Jerry’s, totals $117.9 billion.
After the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, which led to hundreds of civilian deaths and hostages, controversy has erupted. Many protesters denounced Israel and sympathized with the attacks, even before any response from the Israeli military.