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Food giant divests from West Bank

General Mills has announced the sale of its stake in an Israeli joint venture based in the occupied West Bank, the company announced on Tuesday. The subsidiary, which primarily sells breads and dough-based snack products under GM’s Pillsbury brand name, will be acquired by Bodan Holdings, which already holds 40% of the joint venture. 

While GM – and the Israeli media – described the move as part of a wider divestment from European markets motivated solely by financial concerns as part of a strategic effort “to drive superior returns,” the anti-occupation Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has hailed the pullout as a victory for its own activism campaign.

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The sale of the company’s 60% stake “shows that public pressure works even on the largest of corporations,” Quaker activist group American Friends Service Committee’s Noam Perry declared in a statement on Wednesday.

AFSC’s No Dough for the Occupation campaign has been boycotting Pillsbury products for two years and was endorsed by members of the Pillsbury family themselves in 2021.
The Pillsbury family published an op-ed in a Minneapolis newspaper in April 2021 declaring that “as long as General Mills continues to profit from the dispossession and suffering of the Palestinian people, we will not buy any Pillsbury products” and demanded that the company that bore the family’s name “stop doing business on occupied land.”

Israeli media have dismissed the notion that GM’s departure from the country represents any sort of victory for BDS, pointing out that GM also pulled out of Germany, the UK and Ireland in November, selling off its European dough-based subsidiary to the company Cerelia. Jewish Press noted that while GM was selling Pillsbury and its other dough-related Israeli assets to Bodan, the products would still be manufactured at the Atarot Industrial Zone in occupied territory in East Jerusalem. Any sort of victory for the Pillsbury family, the outlet pointed out, would be in name only. 

READ MORE: Israel lashes out at UNHRC after LIST of companies doing business in occupied Palestine is finally released

General Mills was one of just seven US companies included in a UN Human Rights Council report on companies involved in illegal Israeli settlement activities published in 2021.

The BDS movement seeks to exert economic pressure on Israel to leave the occupied territories of the West Bank by boycotting companies that do business there, demanding countries and corporations divest from companies that do business there and calling on governments to impose sanctions on Israel for its human rights violations in the occupied territories.

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