Jerusalem24– General Mills announced on Tuesday that it had divested its 60% stake in its Israeli subsidiary, Bodan Holdings. For the past two years the company has been targeted by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) over the fact that some of its Pillsbury products are manufactured in an illegal Israeli settlement.
General Mills’s statement doesn’t reference the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, and claims that the move simply reflects the company’s “strategic choices about where to prioritize our resources to drive superior returns.” Bodan Holdings, an Israel-based company who previously owned the other 40% of the business, will take over the entire operation. As AFSC points out on Twitter, it remains unclear whether Pillsbury products can still be made in the factory under General Mills’ license agreement.
Since 2002, General Mills has run a Pillsbury production in the Atarot Industrial Zone, a settlement in East Jerusalem that Israel illegally occupied during the 1967 six-day war. A 2020 report on the settlement by Al-Haq documents how the factory impacts Palestinians still living in the area. “When they pour the flour [into the mixers which are outdoors], the flour comes into our house,” explained one resident. “Sometimes the bags of flour overflow into the house.”
In 2020 the United Nations identified General Mills as one of the 112 companies that are violating international law by operating in the occupied territories.
AFSC’s No Dough for the Occupation was backed by human rights organizations like American Muslims for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as the Ainsworth United Church of Christ in Portland, Oregon. It was also endorsed by five members of the Pillsbury family, who published a Star Tribune op-ed in April 2021 calling for a boycott.
“We take pride in seeing our family name associated with products sold around the world,” the op-ed reads. “But in these times we no longer can in good conscience buy products bearing our name.”