In response to the news that State of New Jersey announced its plans to divest its public funds from Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, NIF CEO Daniel Sokatch issued the following statement:
New Jersey’s announcement, like Arizona’s, is bad for America, bad for Israel, and constitutionally questionable. Healthy democracies don’t put limits speech; doing so conflicts with our most cherished founding document and our highest values.
It should be clear to any close observer that Ben & Jerry’s is not boycotting Israel. Rather, the company has stated that it will no longer sell its ice cream in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This position is consistent with the position of the United States, which (with the exception of the Trump administration) has — for decades — referred to Israel’s settlements “an obstacle to peace.” But New Jersey is erasing the distinction between the Israeli-occupied West Bank — where two different populations are subject to two different sets of laws — and Israel-proper. For New Jersey, there is no Green Line. This is contrary to US policy, and corrosive to Israeli democracy.
New Jersey’s 2016 law, like so many others, was passed as part of a strategy designed by Israel’s far-right to stand in the way of a two-state solution. The New Israel Fund, those who believe in free speech, and a democratic future for Israel will not be silent in the face of gag laws like this one.