Facing pressure from activists, Pillsbury withdraws from Israeli-occupied West Bank
After years of popular pressure, multinational food giant General Mills announced on Tuesday that after a 20-year partnership, it would sell its majority stake in an Israeli company operating a factory where Pillsbury products are made on land Stolen Palestinians.
“With this decision, General Mills joins many other American and European companies that have disengaged from Israel’s illegal occupation.”
In a statement, General Mills said its decision to divest its 60% stake in Israel’s Bodan Holdings centered on “strategic choices about prioritizing our resources to generate superior returns.”
Members of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – the Quaker peace group that launched the ‘No Dough for the Occupation’ campaign to boycott Pillsbury products two years ago – have attributed years of activism to the decision .
“The General Mills divestment shows that public pressure works on even the biggest companies,” Noam Perry of AFSC’s economic activism program said in a statement.
The campaign targeted the Minneapolis-based company because since 2002 it had been manufacturing Pillsbury products in the Atarot Industrial Zone, an illegal settlement of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank of Palestine. Israel‘s Jewish-only settlements have been condemned as a form of apartheid by United Nations human rights officials as well as international, Palestinian and Israeli advocacy groups.
According to the Ramallah-based human rights group Al-Haq, the establishment of the industrial zone after Israel’s 1967 conquest and occupation of the West Bank and neighboring East Jerusalem had “consequences devastating” on “Palestinian individuals, communities and the environment”. “
Al-Haq says that Israel “has systematically and illegally appropriated Palestinian public and private lands, exploiting Palestinian natural resources, while forcing transfer and creating coercive environments to forcibly displace the protected Palestinian population.”
Prior to Atarot’s construction, the area where it stands was largely agricultural land belonging mainly to residents of the Palestinian village of Beit Hanina, who were ethnically cleansed under the guise of building houses without permits or to facilitate the construction of the separation barrier in the West Bank, commonly referred to as Israel’s ‘apartheid wall’.
“No Dough for the Occupation” is endorsed by groups such as the Palestinian National Boycott Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, SumOfUs, Women Against Military Madness and others.
The campaign is also supported by several members of the Pillsbury family. In April 2021, Charlie Pillsbury published a Minneapolis Tribune of Stars opinion piece explaining that “we cannot support products bearing our name while its parent company benefits from Israel’s war crimes”.
In a June 2021 interview with AJ+, Pillsbury noted that the General Mills facility is not only built on occupied land, “it is also a sweatshop where Palestinians are searched when they enter and leave” and “work under guards. armed all day” for “half the time”. wages” they would get if they were employed in Israel. General Mills denies allegations of unequal treatment.
Pillsbury’s Tribune of stars the article also noted that Israel was under investigation by the International Criminal Court for alleged and documented war crimes, including the construction and expansion of settlements on lands conquered both during the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians from the Nakba in 1948-49 and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1967 Sequel.
UN Security Council Resolution 2334, adopted in December 2016, states that “Israel’s establishment of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law”.
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention also states that “an occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”, while prohibiting “individual or mass forcible transfers , as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territories”. territory.”
In 2020, the United Nations Human Rights Office included General Mills in a database of more than 100 companies – only seven of them based in the United States – involved in the Israeli occupation.
“With this decision, General Mills joins many other American and European companies that have disengaged from Israel’s illegal occupation, including Microsoft and Unilever over the past two years,” the AFSC’s Perry said.
“We call on all businesses to divest from Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine,” he added, “and the apartheid system of which it is a part.”