A New York group has protested at the opening of a Levievâs diamond store in the city because of the ownerâs support of Israeli apartheid.
***image2***Adalah-NY have been calling for a boycott of Lev Leviev diamonds and a demonstration outside the Leviev jewelers on 13 November. The group states that the Lev Leviev Africa-Israel company has bankrolled the construction of the illegal Israeli settlements of Mattityahu East, Zufim, Har Homa, Ariel and Maâale Adumim.
The settlements Leviev is supporting are a major driving force of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Literally thousands of Palestinians have been ejected from their land, their houses destroyed to make way for wave after wave of Israeli colonization since the occupation of the West Bank 1967. There are an estimated 450,000 Israeli settlers now illegally controlling land in the West Bank, and the number is set to grow. The Occupation is currently in the process of driving around 12,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their land around the Jerusalem-Jericho road in order facilitate the expansion of Maâale Adumin settlement, one of those supported by Leviev.
A further protest is set to take place at 700 Madison Avenue at 62nd Street, on Tuesday November 20th between 4:30 an 6:00pm.
Adalah-NY press release:
Glitterati at Levievâs New York Gala Stunned by Encounter with Palestinian Rights Protest
November 13, 2007
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Over 100 well-dressed, well-heeled New Yorkers attending the invitation-only opening of diamond mogul Lev Levievâs Madison Avenue jewelry store this evening appeared stunned and aghast to find their evening derailed by a noisy protest against Levievâs construction of illegal West Bank settlements. Gala attendees set down their champagne glasses and gathered by windows to view the signs and Palestinian flags, and hear protestersâ chants.
30 New York City human rights activists chanted, âYouâre glitz, youâre glam, youâre stealing Palestinian landâ, and âAll your diamonds cannot hide, your support for Apartheid.â Protesters called on New York Cityâs upscale residents to boycott Levievâs diamonds. Disconcerted attendees hastily exited to their limousines to loud chants of, âOccupation is a drag, just say no to your gift bag.â
Lev Leviev is one of Israelâs richest men. He built his enormous fortune trading in diamonds with Apartheid-era South Africa. His company now buys diamonds from the repressive Angolan government. Leviev uses profits from diamond sales to fuel the conflict in Palestine and Israel by funding the construction of suburban developments for Israeli settlers on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, undermining the prospects for Middle East peace, and threatening farmers’ ability to survive and remain in their homes. Levievâs diamonds are âconflict diamondsâ in a broad sense of the term, funding repression in Angola and violations of international law in Palestine.
Leviev and his former US partner Shaya Boymlegreen have also angered New Yorkers with their abusive local developments schemes. Leviev has invested $1 billion in real estate in New York City over the last year. In New York City, Leviev and Boymelgreen have employed underpaid, non-union workers in hazardous conditions and violated housing codes to construct luxury apartments that displace low-income and moderate-income residents in Brooklyn, provoking local branches of the Laborer’s International Union and ACORN to launch a campaign against these abuses (www.shayaiscoming.org). Brooklynites remain concerned that Leviev and Boymelgreen are key developers in the planned Gowanus Village project.
Levievâs real estate empire in Israel is building homes for Israelis in the West Bank settlements of Mattityahu East and Zufim, according to Gadi Algazi in the August, 2006 Le Monde Diplomatique, and in Maale Adumim and Har Homa, according to The Jerusalem Post. He has also built homes in the settlement of Ariel. All the settlements in which Leviev has built homes seize vital Palestinian water and agricultural resources and carve the West Bank into disconnected Bantustans, destroying hopes for a viable Palestinian state. All Israeli settlements built in the Occupied Palestinian Territories violate international law.
The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth also reported on January 28, 2004 that Leviev is a primary donor to the Israeli organization the Land Redemption Fund, which allegedly uses fraud and intimidation to extort land from Palestinian farmers for Israeli settlement. While Leviev donates to UNICEF and OXFAM, 50% of families in the farming village of Jayyous are now on food aid, according to the Financial Times, because they are being choked by Levievâs expansion of the all-Jewish settlement of Zufim. Leveiv and Boymlegreen are building the settlement of Mattityahu East on the village of Bilâinâs land. Bilâin has earned international acclaim for its three year campaign of nonviolent protest against the construction of settlements and Israelâs wall on their farmland.
“Leviev’s new Manhattan store hides the devastating use of its owner’s fortune underneath shimmering facets of polished diamonds. As long as Lev Leviev violates international law by building settlements in the West Bank and attacks New York’s communities with invasive luxury development, there can be no business as usual for him,” said Daniel Lang/Levitsky of Jews Against the Occupation/NYC.
Adalah-NY will hold a second protest at Levievâs 700 Madison Avenue jewelry store on Tuesday November 20 from 4:30 â 6:00 PM.
For more info: Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East: www.mideastjustice.org