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The activist co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s admitted in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that they don't know how to hold states like Georgia and Texas accountable when they pass laws with which they disagree.

Why it matters: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield have made progressive politics synonymous with their brand. The 70-year-old entrepreneurs, who no longer control the company but retained their right to be its social conscience, have shown they’ll use business muscle in pursuit of their ideals.

Axios' Alexi McCammond asked, during an interview in the brand’s home state of Vermont: “You guys are big proponents of voting rights. Why do you still sell ice cream in Georgia? Texas — abortion bans. Why are you still selling there?”

  • “I don’t know,” Ben Cohen said with a laugh. “It’s an interesting question. I don’t know what that would accomplish. We’re working on those issues, of voting rights. ... I think you ask a really good question. And I think I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit.”
  • When pressed on the Texas limits on women’s access to abortion, Cohen said: “By that reasoning, we should not sell any ice cream anywhere. I’ve got issues with what’s being done in almost every state and country. ”
  • "One thing that's different is that what Israel is doing is considered illegal by international law. And so I think that's a consideration," Greenfield said.

One of the company’s latest moves — its 2021 decision to stop selling ice cream in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories — led to serious backlash.

  • Cohen and Greenfield wrote a joint NYT op-ed defending the company’s decision. “While we no longer have any operational control of the company we founded in 1978, we’re proud of its action and believe it is on the right side of history,” they wrote.
  • Thirty-five states in the U.S. have anti-Israel boycott laws, and so far four have announced they’re taking action or considering divesting from Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s parent company.
  • Greenfield told “Axios on HBO” that those states’ decisions are based on “misinformation” that “Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever are being characterized as boycotting Israel — which is not the case at all. It’s not boycotting Israel in any way,” he said.

The bottom line: Cohen said they have found “ways to do things that increase justice — and also increase ice-cream sales.”

  • “Ben & Jerry’s publicly supported Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter. But over the years, the company continues to sell more ice cream and thrive,” Greenfield said.

Go deeper

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause (R), chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality, or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

3 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.