State Watch

Republican calls on Oklahoma to ban Ben & Jerry’s

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) called on his state to block the sale of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream following an announcement earlier this week that the company would stop selling ice cream in Israeli-occupied Palestianian territory.

#Benandjerrys has now decided they know more about Jerusalem than the Israelis. If Ben & Jerry’s wants to have a meltdown & boycott Israel, OK is ready to respond. Oklahoma has an anti-boycott of Israel law in place,” Lankford said in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday.

“We should immediately block the sale of all #Benandjerrys in the state and in any state-operated facility to align with our law,” Lankford added.

On Monday, Ben & Jerry’s announced that they would stop selling ice cream in disputed parts of the region, saying in a statement, “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).”

“We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year,” the ice cream company continued, adding that they would find a way to stay in Israel “through a different arrangement.”

Ben & Jerry’s declined to comment on Lankford’s tweets.

Lankford’s statements seem to be referring to a bill that was passed in Oklahoma in May 2020 that declares Israel “a prominent trading partner of the State of Oklahoma” and “that the state, and those companies that do business by and through the state, in the interest of the state’s economic policy, should not boycott trade with Israel.”

The bill, signed by the governor last year, also says that the state “shall not adopt a procurement, investment or other policy that has the effect of inducing or requiring a person to boycott the government of Israel or its instrumentalities, or to boycott a person doing business in Israel or territories under its jurisdiction, when such boycott is on the basis of such person’s location in such places.”

However, state Rep. Mark McBride (R), one of the primary authors of the bill, said that this law only applies to the state of Oklahoma and who they do business with.

“If Ben & Jerry’s was a vendor [of the state], then we would not do business, but they are not a vendor of Oklahoma,” McBride said to The Hill.

He added that he would not be doing business with Ben & Jerry’s. 

The Hill has reached out to Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) for additional comment.

Tags Ben & Jerry's Boycott Israel James Lankford James Lankford Palestine
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