Unilever Reverses Ben & Jerry’s Israel Boycott; Arizona Treasurer Hesitant to Reinvest

Unilever Reverses Ben & Jerry’s Israel Boycott; Arizona Treasurer Hesitant to Reinvest

By Corinne Murdock |

On Wednesday, Unilever sold its Ben & Jerry’s business in Israel to its current licensee, American Quality Products (AQP), effectively reversing the ice cream brand’s boycott of Israeli-occupied territory they believed belonged to Palestinians, or “Occupied Palestinian Territory” (OPT). The move came about six months before Ben & Jerry’s license agreement there was set to expire. Ben & Jerry pledged to continue selling in Israel through a different arrangement after that — just not within OPT.

The British consumer goods conglomerate asserted in a press release that they weren’t supportive of Ben & Jerry’s boycott, which they implied was antisemitic. The company explained that it was slow to take action on the boycott, which began last July, because they wanted to conduct an extensive review with parties involved, including the Israeli government. 

“Unilever rejects completely and repudiates unequivocally any form of discrimination or intolerance. Antisemitism has no place in any society. We have never expressed any support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement and have no intention of changing that position,” wrote Unilever. 

The conglomerate expressed hope that the Israeli and Palestinian governments could reach a peaceful resolution in their conflict. 

Ben & Jerry’s insisted that their boycott wasn’t rooted in antisemitism. 

Ben & Jerry’s boycotted the Israel-occupied area last July in response to controversy over Israeli forces along the West Bank, which the company asserted was an illegal incursion. In response, State Treasurer Kimberly Yee divested Unilever of state funds in September. The state originally had around $143 million invested in the conglomerate.

At the time, Yee pointed to Arizona law prohibiting state funds from going to entities that boycott Israel. 

“I gave Unilever PLC, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, an ultimatum: reverse the action of Ben & Jerry’s or divest itself of Ben & Jerry’s to come into compliance with Arizona law or face the consequences. They chose the latter,” said Yee. “It does not matter how much investment Unilever PLC has in Israel, with Ben & Jerry’s decision to no longer sell its product in the West Bank, the companies are in violation of the law in Arizona. Arizona will not do business with companies that are attempting to undermine Israel’s economy and blatantly disregarding Arizona’s law.”

On Thursday, Yee issued a formal statement commending Unilever for reversing Ben & Jerry’s boycott. However, the treasurer didn’t pledge to restore the divested funds immediately. Yee shared that her office would review Unilever before deciding to reinvest. 

“[I] continue to be concerned about the woke decisions of Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors,” remarked Yee in closing. 

In a statement, Ben & Jerry’s expressed that they didn’t support Unilever’s decision. 

“We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” stated the company. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Senate Passes Bill Requiring Public Entities, Higher Education to Divest From Companies Boycotting Israel

Senate Passes Bill Requiring Public Entities, Higher Education to Divest From Companies Boycotting Israel

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona Senate passed a bill requiring public entities — the meaning of which was expanded to include state universities and community college districts — to divest from companies boycotting Israel. 

Specifically, SB1250 would require public entities to take action within three months of the state treasurer releasing its restricted company list, a record of companies that boycott Israel. As AZ Free News reported last September, Treasurer Kimberly Yee announced that the state wouldn’t invest funds in the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s for its Israel boycott, which violated state law. Furthermore, under SB1250 all public entities would also be required to publish a list of investments sold, redeemed, divested, or withdrawn on its website annually. Those public entities would be indemnified and held harmless for divesting from the companies. 

About half of the Senate Democrats voted against the bill: Assistant Minority Leader Lupe Contreras (D-Avondale), Minority Whip Martin Quezada (D-Glendale) and State Senators Sally Ann Gonzales (D-Tucson), Theresa Hatathlie (D-Coal Mine Canyon), Lisa Otondo (D-Yuma), and Raquel Teran (D-Phoenix). 

The remainder of the Senate Democrats expressed support or opted not to vote at all. Minority Leader Rebecca Rios (D-Phoenix), Minority Whip Victoria Steele (D-Tucson), and State Senators Lela Alston (D-Phoenix), Sean Bowie (D-Chandler), Rosanna Gabaldon (D-Sahuarita), and Christine Marsh (D-Phoenix) voted for the bill; State Senators Juan Mendez (D-Tempe) and Stephanie Stahl Hamilton (D-Tucson) didn’t vote. 

During the Senate Finance Committee hearing last week, State Representative David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista) criticized the constituents, several of whom were college students, that claimed the state of Israel has engaged in an “apartheid regime” against the Palestinians. 

“I know what real history is, and you want to talk about apartheid let’s talk about Hitler and the Jews and the Nazis back in Germany,” said Gowan. “This movement is just another attack on the Jewish society. I mean you see it throughout history itself. It’s a horrible situation that we have to reteach, reteach, reteach because we forget about our past. But remember when you forget the past, you’re gonna repeat it. We want to stop this now so we don’t repeat our past.”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Unilever Reverses Ben & Jerry’s Israel Boycott; Arizona Treasurer Hesitant to Reinvest

Treasurer Yee Divests Ben & Jerry’s State Funds for Illegal Israel Boycott

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee announced Tuesday that the state will no longer invest funds in ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s, due to its violation of state law with its Israel boycott. Arizona law outlaws any state funds from going to entities that boycott Israel.

Arizona’s Unilever investments have dropped from $143 million to around $50 million currently. All investments will be removed by September 21.

In a press release, Yee explained that Ben & Jerry’s parent company, the British conglomerate Unilever PLC, refused to reverse the boycott or divest itself of the ice cream company.

“I gave Unilever PLC, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, an ultimatum: reverse the action of Ben & Jerry’s or divest itself of Ben & Jerry’s to come into compliance with Arizona law or face the consequences. They chose the latter,” said Yee. “It does not matter how much investment Unilever PLC has in Israel, with Ben & Jerry’s decision to no longer sell its product in the West Bank, the companies are in violation of the law in Arizona. Arizona will not do business with companies that are attempting to undermine Israel’s economy and blatantly disregarding Arizona’s law.”

Yee denounced the actions of Ben & Jerry’s in a follow-up tweet to the press release. She denounced the boycott as anti-Semitic and discriminatory.

“As Arizona Treasurer, I’ve divested all state funds from Ben & Jerry’s for boycotting Israel. Israel is and will continue to be a major trade partner of AZ,” wrote Yee. “ #IStandWithIsrael and I will not allow taxpayer dollars to go towards anti-Semitic, discriminatory efforts against Israel.”

Ben & Jerry’s announced their boycott in mid-July. They claimed that Israeli forces were illegally occupying Palestinian territory. They also stated that their end to ice cream sales wasn’t technically a boycott – that they would remain in Israel through “a different business arrangement.” The company promised to divulge further details about this arrangement, but have yet to do so.

Ben & Jerry’s founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, also argued that their decision to withdraw from Israel wasn’t antisemitic. Rather, they said that they rejected Israel’s policy of occupation.

“The company’s stated decision to more fully align its operations with its values is not a rejection of Israel. It is a rejection of Israeli policy, which perpetuates an illegal occupation that is a barrier to peace and violates the basic human rights of the Palestinian people who live under the occupation,” stated Cohen and Greenfield. “As Jewish supporters of the State of Israel, we fundamentally reject the notion that it is antisemitic to question the policies of the State of Israel.”

This is far from the first of the ice cream giant’s clear declaration of its political stance. They are consistently political.

Following George Floyd’s death last year, Ben & Jerry’s called for people to dismantle white supremacy, and told white people to examine their privilege and pay reparations.

After the January 6 incident at the Capitol, Ben & Jerry’s issued a flurry of social media posts and statements calling for then-President Donald Trump’s impeachment. They asserted that the rioters were advocating for white supremacy.

In February, the company unveiled a mural of National Anthem-kneeler, Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist, ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick.

They’ve also released statements in support of trans rights, reparations, BLM, and illegal immigration (especially through their partnership with Migrant Justice’s Milk with Dignity – an organization that advocates for illegal immigrants).

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital Appears to Have Fired Doctor Who Called for End to Israel, Accused Jews of Cannibalism, Racism

Phoenix Children’s Hospital Appears to Have Fired Doctor Who Called for End to Israel, Accused Jews of Cannibalism, Racism

By Corinne Murdock |

Phoenix Children’s Hospital appears to have let go one of their pediatric radiologists, Dr. Fidaa Wishah, after she posted a promise that Israel’s end would come soon.

“We will not be #censored anymore ! Bomb our media buildings and we have the phones[.] Bribe the mainstream media and we have our small #socialmedia platforms[.] From our windows.. from our streets .. next the rubble we will expose you to the world[.] We will expose the #massacre and #genocide you #zionists are proud of[.] We will uncover your thirst to kill our Palestinian children[.] Through our small platforms we undress your ugly souls and watch your barbaric desperate comments[.] We sense your fear .. The fear of your collapse[.] A state based on atrocity, inhumanity, racism and cannibalism never lasts long ! Hey #israel … your end is coming sooner than you think[.]” (emphasis added)

As of Tuesday, Wishah’s profile on the Phoenix Children’s Hospital website was still up. By Wednesday, it was gone. Her LinkedIn profile still identified her current occupation as a radiologist with the hospital, as of Wednesday night.

In the picture accompanying her post, Wishah is wearing pink scrubs with her name on them.

AZ Free News inquired with Phoenix Children’s Hospital whether they agreed with Wishah’s statements. Phoenix Children’s Hospital didn’t respond by press time.

In other reports, the hospital stated that it was investigating the matter.

This wasn’t the first time Wishah posted a political statement in scrubs. Last year, Wishah posted a picture about COVID-19 that went viral after it was reposted by a meme page.

“STAY HOME UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE INTUBATED BY A RADIOLOGIST,” read the piece of paper.

It is unclear whether Wishah posted the picture from inside a workplace – and whether she printed the statement using work supplies.

Wishah also appeared to be the Creighton University Phoenix campus associate professor. Her profile is no longer available on Creighton University’s website. Wishah was appointed as an associate professor with that university last January.

According to Wishah’s doctor profile on Phoenix Children’s Hospital Care Team page, Wishah received her medical degree from the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Irbid, Jordan. After that, she came to Dearborn, Michigan to finish her residency and fellowship at Wayne State University. Dearborn is predominately Muslim – like Irbid.

Wishah first joined Phoenix Children’s Hospital in 2019. Prior to her apparent release, Wishah specialized in fetal ultrasound and MRI imaging, vascular malformation, and musculoskeletal radiology.

Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to corinnejournalist@gmail.com.