Just days after a Texas Senate bill excised curriculum requirements mentioning people of color and women, the state is now also considering boycotting Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for the company’s support of Palestinians.
Earlier this week, the board of the historically socially conscious company issued a statement saying that it was “inconsistent” with Ben & Jerry’s values to continue to sell ice cream in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and contested areas of East Jerusalem.
The company aims to work out a new deal with another distributor to continue to sell in Israel — but not in the territory claimed by Palestinians for a state of their own, the statement noted.
State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who controls billions of dollars in assets for public pension funds in the state, said he quickly told his office to determine what action it can take against the company. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law four years ago that would force Texas pension funds to divest from any company boycotting Israel, though clearly Ben & Jerry’s isn’t refusing to sell in the country, only in the occupied territories.
“I’ve directed my staff to determine whether any specific action taken by Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever would trigger a listing under” under that law,” Hegar said in a statement. If the company, which is owned by Unilever, is found to be in violation of the state law, “my office will take all appropriate and required actions,” he added, which would presumably involve divesting or boycotting any investment in the company.
Hegar did not reveal if state pensions currently hold any stake in the ice cream company.
Florida is also considering some kind of sanction against the ice cream company, which was founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, both Jewish and both progressive.
New Israeli President Isaac Herzog called the company’s actions a “new form of terrorism.”
Alan Jope, the CEO of Unilever, said on Thursday that the company “remains fully committed to our business in Israel.” The ice cream company’s independent board has the power to make such decisions on its own under its longtime acquisition deal with Unilever, he explained.
A representative of Abbott called the move by Ben & Jerry’s “disgraceful.”
The Texas Legislature came under heavy fire last week after the state Senate passed a bill dropping about two dozen curriculum requirements for social studies in public schools, which specifically singled out people of color and women.
The cuts included Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the work of the late United Farmworkers leader Cesar Chavez, the Emancipation Proclamation, Susan B. Anthony’s writings on women’s suffrage, and “Native American history.” It also dropped a requirement to teach about white supremacy, including the murderously racist Ku Klux Klan and “the ways in which it is morally wrong.”
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.