By Andrew Lapin
General Mills announced Tuesday it would be fully divesting from a business venture in Israel that had operated in an East Jerusalem settlement, in a move pro-Palestinian activists celebrated as the result of their campaign against the food conglomerate.
The Minnesota-based company has operated a Pillsbury frozen-food factory in the Atarot Industrial Zone since 2002, in a joint venture with Israeli investment group Bodan Holdings. In a statement, the company said it would sell its majority stake in the venture back to Bodan as part of a larger international investment strategy.
General Mills’ statement did not mention politics and noted that the company had previously moved to sell off its European dough business, as well. Reached for comment, a company spokesperson redirected the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to its statement.
The company has been a target of pro-Palestinian activists since it was included in a 2020 United Nations database of companies doing business in Israeli settlements.
American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker-affiliated activist organization that has been pushing the company to end its Israel operations via a campaign called “No Dough For The Occupation,” took credit for the divestment in a statement.
“General Mills’ divestment shows that public pressure works even on the largest of corporations,” Noam Perry, a member of the group’s Economic Activism team, said in the statement.
The divestment carried echoes of another food producer’s Israel-related move: last year’s decision by ice-cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling ice cream in “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” In that case, the decision was explicitly political, coming on the heels of Israel’s deadly conflict with Hamas.
And the blowback was swift, with Jewish groups and several state governments lining up to not only boycott Ben & Jerry’s products but also divest from its parent company, the British multinational conglomerate Unilever — in many cases citing anti-Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions laws to do so.