By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
December 22, 2023
Boycotting Israel? Then don’t look to do business with the state of North Carolina. That’s the message sent to Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. by N.C. Treasurer Dale R. Folwell this week. His office issued a press release Thursday announcing the addition of the popular ice cream brand to the list of companies subject to divestment and contract restrictions as a result of their boycott of Israel. The action includes Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever PLC, and Unilever subsidiaries, according to the release.
“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. We will follow our policies and the law,” said Folwell. He has ordered the divestment of $40 million in Unilever assets and has dispatched notices to local governments and state agencies prohibiting them from contracting with either company. He said the action was particularly important in light of recent atrocities perpetrated against the Israeli people.
“There is no place for antisemitism in this state or this country,” Folwell said.
The state’s retirement system provides benefits and savings for more than a million members, including teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other government employees. Folwell’s office manages the pension plans’ investments which total $117.9 billion.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said league supporters rejoice in Folwell’s action.
“We thank God that our great state has a good statute on the books such as this one,” he said about the North Carolina Divestment From Companies Boycotting Israel Act of 2017 (Gen. Stat. § 147-86.81).
Creech outlined the spiritual connection that Christians share with the Jewish people and their land.
“As a conservative evangelical Christian, I firmly believe in the biblical covenant that God established with Abraham and his descendants, which promises them land and blessings as an unconditional and eternal covenant. Israel holds a central place in God’s economy, being chosen as His special people to demonstrate His faithfulness and fulfill His purposes. This divine choice is not based on any merit or superiority on Israel’s part but is part of God’s sovereign plan,” he said, pointing out that Israel’s significance is deeply rooted in messianic prophecy.
“The Hebrew Bible contains prophecies that find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and we anticipate His return, which will involve the restoration and blessing of Israel. The authority of the Bible is paramount in our faith, and we interpret it literally, including prophecies concerning Israel. We view the words of the prophets and the apostles as divinely inspired and relevant today, shaping our understanding of Israel’s unique place,” Creech added.
He said Christians look to the future in anticipation of the fulfillment of eschatological purposes when Christ establishes His Kingdom on Earth.
“In this scenario, Israel plays a pivotal role, with Jerusalem as the capital of Christ’s Kingdom, and Israel fully restored and blessed,” Creech said. “Our faith in these promises guides our unwavering support for Israel and her people.”
North Carolina is far from alone in standing up for the Jewish people. At least 35 states have passed bills and executive orders designed to discourage boycotts of Israel. New Jersey, Arizona, and Illinois are among those states that have divested from Unilever. Florida stopped buying shares of Unilever in October of 2021.
Ben & Jerry’s is one of 10 companies on North Carolina’s recently updated “Divest and Do Not Contract” list. The company, which prides itself on social activism, announced in 1998 that it would not purchase water from an Israeli company in the Golan Heights. In 2009, it changed its “Chubby Hubby” flavor to “Hubby Hubby,” as an endorsement of same-sex marriage. Its decision to halt sales in the West Bank made headlines in 2021, and it sued Unilever shortly thereafter when the parent company contracted with Israeli sellers against its wishes under the brand name Blue & White Ice-Cream Ltd. The case was settled out of court late last year.