On December 12, activists from Dubai joined the campaign against Lev Leviev, as they urged residents of Dubai to boycott the jeweller during the screening of a documentary film on activist hip hop at the Dubai Film Festival.
Forty T-shirts and one hundred letters from the West Bank village of Jayyous were distributed to the audience at the screening of Slingshot Hip Hop, a documentary about Palestinian rappers in Israel by Arab American filmmaker Jackie Salloum. The T-shirts called on Dubai residents to boycott Leviev as well as Levant Jewellery, which is owned by Leviev’s local agent, Palestinian-Moroccan Arif Bin Khadra. Levant stores exist in the Atlantis, Al Qasr and Mina Al Salaam hotels. Another branch is planned for the Dubai Mall.
Leviev built his fortune by trading diamonds with apartheid-era South Africa, and now he sustains his wealth through his companyâs purchase of conflict diamonds from various African countries. He then uses the profits from these conflict diamonds to fund the construction of multiple settlements in the West Bank. Jayyous is one of the villages that has been most affected by Levievâs colonizing activities, as the settlement of Zufim is built on stolen Jayyous land. Nearly 6,000 dunums of Jayyous land has been confiscated for the expansion of Zufim, and over 6,000 olive trees have been uprooted for the same purpose. Villagers have been robbed of their livelihoods, and many have been forced to leave their homes.
Public pressure against Leviev has been building around the world, as activists campaigning against Leviev’s activities have set up a Facebook group that is calling for a boycott of all Dubai venues that host stores selling Leviev diamonds. The group has gained almost 400 members in less than two weeks since its launch, according to group administrator Jabbar, a UAE-based Palestinian rapper.
The New York based Coalition for Justice in the Middle East (Adalah-NY) has spearheaded the international campaign against Leviev, and has recently had success in persuading Hollywood celebrities to distance themselves from Leviev. So far, Sex and the City star Kirsten Davis, Full House star Mary-Kate Olsen, as well as Felicity Huffman and Melissa George have reportedly asked Leviev to stop using their names to promote the diamonds. OXFAM and UNICEF have also cut all ties with Leviev and his companies, thus further signaling the positive effects that public pressure can have.