Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions are moral, nonviolent actions to pressure Israel to comply with basic principles of justice and international law, including ending the occupation, facilitating the right of Palestinian refugees to return and ensuring equal rights for all Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Take action now to stop Israeli atrocities in Gaza and put an end to Israeli crimes.
Take action and boycott companies that benefit from Israeli war crimes and apartheid. Below are just a few businesses, all with a strong presence in New York, whose products you can stop buying.
(See bottom of article for the latest revision date.)
ISRAELI BRANDS SOLD IN THE US:
AHAVA DEAD SEA LABORATORIES
Ahava is an Israeli cosmetics company whose manufacturing plant and visitor center are located in the West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. All Israeli settlements in the West Bank violate international law. Further, Ahava uses in its products mud from the Dead Sea, excavated in an occupied area, and thus it exploits occupied natural resources for profit, which is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The settlements of Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia, situated in the occupied Jordan Valley, together hold 44% of Ahava’s shares. As such, Ahava profits subsidize these settlements and their residents. According to mapping done by Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the settlements were constructed on the land of two former Palestinian villages: Nabi Musa where Kalia is now situated and 'Arab al-Ta’amira near Mitzpe Shalem.
Because of its illegal practices, Ahava is the subject of an international boycott campaign. In June 2009, CODEPINK launched its Stolen Beauty campaign against Ahava with a protest at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv. A French activist group filed suit against the Sephora cosmetics chain for carrying Ahava. There have been boycott actions in Amsterdam, Paris, Montreal, London, Vienna, and around the United States.
Ahava’s labeling of its cosmetics as “products of Israel,” when they are in fact made in the occupied West Bank, has attracted scrutiny from government officials of different countries. The Dutch Foreign Minister has called for an investigation into Ahava and a British Minister of Parliament recently denounced Ahava’s labeling practices as “fraudulent”. In August 2010, the acquittal of four activists by a British Court of ‘aggravated trespass’, for actions in which they shut Ahava’s flagship store in London’s Convent Garden, raised issues about the illegality of settlement products being marketed in the UK as Israeli.
Ahava US is headquartered in New York at 411 Fifth Avenue, at 37th Street. Ahava products are sold by many New York retailers, including Ricky’s NYC, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, Beauty 360, City Chemists and independently owned pharmacies.
Sabra Hummus is made by Sabra Dipping Company LLC, which is 50% owned by the Israeli company the Strauss Group in a joint-venture partnership with PepsiCo (the Strauss Group also owns 100% of Max Brenner, see below). The Strauss Group is the second largest Israeli food and beverage company and is widely touted as one of the great successes of Israeli industry.
The Strauss Group supports the Israeli army and specifically, the Golani Brigade, an “elite” unit with a history of severe human rights abuses. On its website, the Struass Group presents this support under the banner of “Corporate Responsibility,” proudly proclaiming its special relationship with the Golani Brigade in the subsection entitled “In the Field with Soldiers” (Update Nov 6th, 2010: This page of their website has been revised. CLICK HERE for a screen-shot of how it appeared on Oct 9th, 2010):
“Our connection with soldiers goes as far back as the country, and even further. We see a mission and need to continue to provide our soldiers with support, to enhance their quality of life and service conditions, and sweeten their special moments. We have adopted the Golani reconnaissance platoon for over 30 years and provide them with an ongoing variety of food products for their training or missions, and provide personal care packages for each soldier that completes the path.”
Historically, the Israeli army has been a flagrant violator of human rights and international law. Even in this context, the Golani Brigade has attracted particular attention. According to a January 2009 article in Ha’aretz Daily, the Golani Brigade “is known as a brigade that struggles with no small number of disciplinary problems and scandals, caused by bad behavior ranging from revolts against commanders to abuse of Palestinians.”
“Breaking the Silence", a group composed of ex-Israeli soldiers, has documented numerous cases of Golani Brigade involvement in human rights abuses. For example, in November 2008, members of the Golani Brigade filmed themselves forcing a captive, blindfolded Palestinian to sing humiliating songs, some, as the BBC news describes it, “of a sexual nature,” and some about the Golani Brigade. In December 2005, a Golani Brigade officer was convicted for beating a Palestinian detainee and threatening to cut off his penis.
Yigal Amir, the assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was a member of the Golani Brigade. A 1995 New York Times article on Amir and the Golani Brigade presented the following portrait of the Brigade’s behavior:
“One day reporters came upon some of them [Golani Brigades] in a Palestinian village near Bethlehem, dragging youths into a bus packed with soldiers beating their clubs on the steel seat frames in unison and chanting wildly: ‘We are Golani! We are insane!’….
‘In Golani, everybody hits,’ Mr. Amir’s comrade, Mr. Nagar remembered. . . . During searches in Jabalaya, a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Mr. Nagar said, ‘The officer says, before breaking into a house, give them a 10,000 mile tune-up.’”
The Times article noted that in addition to Amir, “Three men who had served in Golani have committed widely publicized murders of Arabs and an Israeli peace campaigner.”
Sabra’s annual sales represent about 40% of the $312 million market for refrigerated dips and spreads in the United States. The company’s August 2010 relocation from Astoria in Queens, New York, to Richmond, Virginia, has affected 154 workers.
In September 2008, the Israel-based Osem Group acquired Tribe Hummus, a competitor of Sabra. Osem Investments LTD is one of the largest food manufacturers and distributors in Israel. Founded before the establishment of the Israeli state, Osem celebrates its role as a pillar of Zionist development, stating on its website, “the history of Osem is intertwined with the history of the modern State of Israel… the company’s development and establishment of the different production plants were an integral part of promotional activities for different development areas throughout Israel.”
Osem has contracts to supply the Israeli army with pasta and Bamba, a snack food. Bamba's biggest commercial boost came about during the 1967 Six Day War, when Israeli army canteens were stocked with the snack food. Osem has been a long-term supporter and partner of the Jewish National Fund. The Jewish National Fund was established in 1907 for the sole purpose of acquiring land in Palestine to settle Jews. Its discriminatory policies against Palestinians have been well documented. Osem and the JNF have developed various programs that enable consumers of Osem to support the JNF, such as the 2004, Jewish National Fund-OSEM USA program: Matzah With a Mitzvah project, where Osem pledged to make a donation to the JNF for every five boxes of matzah products sold and advertise the JNF on their packages. Osem is included in the JNF’s Loyalty Program which provides saving for products from donor companies.
Dates were Israel’s leading fruit export in 2005. Today, it is estimated that Israel produces over 5,000 tons of dates annually, bringing in approximately $100 million. Up to 80% of the Israeli date crop is exported, mainly to Europe where it has around 10% of the market share. The two major Israeli companies involved in the production and export of dates are Agrexco and Hadiklaim. Both companies operate illegally in the occupied Jordan Valley, exploiting Palestinian laborers (including children), who are being systematically forced off their land by the Israeli army.
Agrexco, Israel’s largest produce exporters, includes the brands Carmel, Carmel Bio-Top, Alesia, Jordan Plains, and Jordan Valley. Carmel Agrexco exports 350,000 tons of produce and flowers annually, yielding $580 million. These leading export brands buy their fruit from various growers located throughout Israel and occupied Palestine, including the Jordan Valley, but they fail to differentiate between produce from Israel and that which is produced in the illegal settlements in the West Bank. In addition to selling dates produced in settlements, Agrexco has a regional office in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.
Agrexco is owned by the Israeli government (50%), Israeli growers represented by the country’s production and marketing boards (25%), and the Tnuva cooperative (25%), whose controlling shareholder is Apax Partners (UK and USA). In 2008, the government approved a program to privatize the company, however privatization has not yet been initiated.
Ongoing BDS campaigns against Carmel Agrexco in the United Kingdom and Italy have highlighted Israel’s policy to mislabel settlement produce as products of Israel in order to benefit from European-Israeli trade agreements. Settlement products, sold as products made in Israel, violate the preferential trade terms for Israel defined by the European Union-Israel Association Agreement (EU-IAA) in effect since 2000 and confirmed by the European Court of Justice’s February 2010 ruling.
Carmel Agrexco also violates international law. The fourth Geneva convention, of which the State of Israel is a signatory, deems settlement on occupied lands illegal, as well as the agricultural production taking place in such settlements, because of the exploitation of occupied resources it implies.
The Hague Court’s 2004 advisory ruling on the Israeli Separation Wall affirmed this illegality, condemning as a breach of international law Israeli settlements constructed beyond the Green Line, the internationally-recognized boundary between Israel and the Palestinian West Bank. Settlements on occupied land and the agricultural production.
Carmel Agrexco has been a target of boycott campaigns in the United Kingdom and Italy.
In England, activists have been blockading Agrexco depots and halting delivery trucks to protest imports since 2005. In November 2006, during a trial in the United Kingdom in which protesters who had blockaded Agrexco’s UK distribution center in Middlesex were acquitted, Agrexco UK’s then general manager, Amor Or, admitted under oath that Agrexco single handedly markets 60–70% of the agricultural produce grown in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Since then, Agrexco has refused to cooperate with the police in prosecutions to avoid having its business practices exposed by the scrutiny of the courts.
The UK-based NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa has launched the Check the Label campaign aimed at raising awareness among British Muslims to not buy Israeli dates to break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
Stop Agrexco Italy (a coalition of over 50 associations, political parties and trade unions) announced a BDS victory in May 2010 upon the suspension of sales of Agrexco products by two Italian chains, COOP Italia and Nordiconad. Spokespeople from these stores denied any blanket boycott, saying that only products from settlements in the occupied territories would not be carried.
Hadiklaim is the other major date export marketer. Functioning as a growers’ cooperative that “consolidates the activities of Israel’s largest and most advanced date producers,” the Hadiklaim cooperative includes date growers from 1948 Israel, mostly the South, and from the settlements in the occupied Jordan Valley.
The website, which states “Hadiklaim date farms stretch the length of Israel, from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea region, from the Arava Desert to Beit Shean Valley,” is purposely ambiguous in regards to the cooperatives activities in the occupied Jordan Valley. However, the companies CEO has stated in YNet that the occupied Jordan Valley is an important area for Hadiklaim.
In October 2007, a group of campaigners from the Brighton Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group entered Tomer settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley and photographed Hadiklaim medjoul dates, packaged by Carmel Agrexco, labelled ‘Made in Israel’ and marked as bound for Tesco stores. Products exported as ‘Made in Israel’ benefit from the preferential trade terms of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which came into effect in 2000. Settlement products, however, are excluded from the beneficial terms of the EU-IAA. When ITN, British New Agency, screened an expose in 2007 accusing supermarkets of misleading British consumers, Tesco admitted it had acted “in error” and stated that Israeli dates “originating solely in the West Bank will [in the future] be labelled as such.” The controversy spurred the 2009 UK Department for Environment, Food and Rurual Affairs "Technical Advice: labeling of produce grown in the Occupied Palestinian Territories", which states the Government considers that traders… would be committing an offence if they were to declare produce from the OPT as ‘Produce of Israel’.
Although many stores market Hadiklaim dates under their own brand names, some Hadiklaim labels to watch for include Jordan River, Jordan River Bio-Top, King Solomon, and Klein Pella.
GLOBAL BRANDS THAT PROFIT FROM ISRAELI APARTHEID:
Since the founding of Israel in 1948, Motorola has been assisting the state in carrying out its repressive policies toward Palestinians. Motorola Israel, established in 1964, was the company’s first wholly owned subsidiary outside of the United States and profits handsomely from Israel's militarism and ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands. Its 2009 sales totaled $712 million, of which $304 million were exports. Motorola has been a target of several boycott campaigns including the the US Campaign to End the Occupation’s “Hang Up on Motorola” and Jewish Voice for Peace’s “TIAA-CREF: Divest from the Occupation”.
Motorola today enables Israeli apartheid as Motorola South Africa once enabled South African apartheid. Forty percent owned by its American parent, Motorola South Africa supplied mobile radio transmitters to the South African police, who used this technology to suppress demonstrations against the government. Motorola’s dealings with the apartheid regime came to an end in 1985, when Motorola sold its South African operations to South African electronic company Allied Technologies LTD (Altech) on the condition that the latter cease equipment sales to South African agencies. The agreement was a win for US anti-apartheid activists, who had pressured Motorola to break its ties with the South African regime and had helped to pass municipal laws, in New York, and elsewhere, that prohibited city governments from doing business with companies supplying equipment used to enforce apartheid in South Africa.
Motorola enables Israel’s apartheid policies and violations of international law through the development and sale of products specifically designed for and used by the Israeli military and settlers. There are three basic categories of Motorola products that have helped the state of Israel sustain its criminal policies and repressive practices:
- Surveillance and “security” equipment and systems
- Fuzes and Munitions
- Communications equipment and systems
1. Motorola Israel: Surveillance and Security
Motorola designs and helps implement perimeter surveillance systems around illegal Israeli settlements and military camps in the occupied West Bank. Motorola developed the Electronic Fence Radar System (EFRS). In 2005, Har Bracha settlement, near Nablus, became the first settlement to receive the radar system and within a year, the IDF equipped at least 46 settlements in the occupied West Bank with the technology. The radar systems are like “virtual fences” that can extend up to 700 meters outside of the settlement, effectively seizing even more land for the settlements and prohibiting free movement of Palestinian living in nearby communities. The system is currently known to be in use in the Hebron region, including around the settlement of Karmei Tzur and in Hebron itself, where a handful of settlers have established themselves amid 150,000 Palestinians, attempting to expand their hold on Hebron’s historic old city by taking over homes, terrorizing and expelling Palestinian residents, and connecting their settlements to the neighboring settlement of Kiryat Arba.
The newest version of Motorola-developed surveillance systems used in the occupied West Bank is MotoEagle Surveillance, which is used in at least 16 West Bank locations; other Motorola military technology includes the Wide Area Surveillance System (WASS), which is deployed by the Israeli military in several “sensitive” areas around the country and The Stronghold, which also is used by the Israeli Ministry of Defense and which Motorola developed with Aeronautics Defense Systems (ADS).
In December 2009, Motorola sold its subsidiary Motorola Integrated Radio System (MIRS) to Altice. Along with three other Israeli companies, MIRS had built an extensive network of antennas and transmission stations for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. According to Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace, MIRS had at least 70 cell phone towers in illegal settlements in the West Bank.
2. Motorola Israel: Fuzes and Munitions
In April 2009, Motorola Israel sold its Government Electronics Department (GED) unit that produced fuzes for the Israeli military to the Israeli company Aeronautics Defense Systems LTD, a close partner of Motorola Israel, with whom Motorola Israel co-develops other technologies. The sale came after several groups in the United States had been drawing attention to Motorola Israel’s support for Israeli apartheid.
Motorola spokesman Rusty Brashear said the sale of the unit was not triggered by the protests against Motorola. “We’re selling it primarily because it doesn’t fit in our portfolio,” Brashear said. “We’ve been getting out of all our military units, except for communications.”
The primary customer of the Motorola Israel’s fuse unit was the Israeli Military Industries LTD (IMI), and the fuzes have been used in cluster, “bunker-buster,” and other bombs.
Cluster munitions are notorious anti-personnel devices whose export was recently banned by the US government. Each cluster bomb is composed of hundreds of exploding “bomblets” that spray metal shrapnel over a large area. Cluster bombs also typically leave behind unexploded bomblets, which, much like land mines, continue to pose a lethal threat after military conflict has ended.
During the 2006 Lebanon war, Israeli forces fired some 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million bomblets, into southern Lebanon. These cluster munitions had a failure rate of 14% and left behind at least 100,000 unexploded bomblets. The United Nations determined in 2007 that 26% of southern Lebanon's cultivatable land remained affected by cluster bombs.
Motorola also has made “proximity” fuzes, which cause bombs to detonate in the air just above ground (prior to impact), producing an aerial fireball, and “delay” fuzes, which may be timed to explode up to 48 hours after combat deployment.
3. Motorola Israel: Communications
In 1999, Motorola Israel won the tender for a $100 million dollar contract to provide a nationwide military cellular network for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Code-named "Mountain Rose" (Vered Harim in Hebrew), this data-encrypting communications system gives military commanders, soldiers, and civilian leaders an unprecedented level of mobility.
Mountain Rose was first put to combat use in Israel’s war on Lebanon in 2006, during which it provided the Israeli military with secure voice communications, text messaging, transmission of satellite and reconnaissance photography, and other data on an integrated, self-contained network. In 2008, Defense News reported that “the IDF’s C4 Directorate is accelerating investment in secure tactical communications systems such as the Mountain Rose cellular telephone by Motorola Israel.”
Motorola’s involvement in Israel’s illegal settlements renders it complicit in violations of human rights and international law. By providing support for settlements and their related infrastructure, Motorola plays a role in ensuring that settlement expansion will continue, in violation of international law, and to the detriment of the Palestinian population.
HEWLETT PACKARD (HP)
Hewlett Packard owns Electronic Data Systems (EDS) Israel, which developed, installed, maintains and provides ongoing field support for the Basel System, Israel’s pass system for Palestinian workers. The Basel System is an automated biometric access control system with hand and face recognition that is installed at Israeli checkpoints such as the Erez checkpoint in Gaza and the Sha'ar Ephraim and Bethlehem checkpoints in the West Bank.
Hewlett Packard has also supplied other technology, such as PCs, to the Israeli army.
The French cosmetics company L'Oreal became a target of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) in December 2008, in a campaign called Boycott L'Oreal: Makeup for Israeli Apartheid. L’Oreal operates a factory on a ethnically cleansed Palestinian village inside Israel and exploits minerals from the Dead Sea.
According to the statement issued by the BNC, “L’Oreal’s operations in Israel began in the mid-1990s, motivated in part by political considerations. Since then, L'Oreal Israel, the company's subsidiary in Israel, has operated a factory in the Israeli town of Migdal Haemek in the Lower Galilee. The settlement of Migdal Haemek was established in 1952 on lands belonging to the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of al-Mujaydil, whose original inhabitants are still denied the right to return to their homes. Like almost all other Jewish settlements built in the midst of Palestinian villages in the Galilee, inside Israel, Migdal Haemek discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, denying them the right to buy, rent or live on any part of the town, simply because they are ‘non-Jews.’”
L'Oreal Israel’s “Natural Sea Beauty” product line, exported to 22 countries, uses minerals from the Dead Sea, one-third of whose western shore is in West Bank. The BNC statement notes that “while the entire shore and its resources are systematically closed to Palestinians by Israeli military occupation and apartheid practices, Israel exploits the Dead Sea for international tourism, mining and improving its image.”
In its corporate philanthropy, too, L'Oreal has chosen to align itself with Israeli institutions involved in the repression of Palestinians. In July 2008, L'Oreal gave a $100,000 “lifetime achievement” award to a scientist at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science, which, as the BNC explains, “has been a major center for clandestine research and development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons on behalf of Israel's military establishment, with which it has close ties
L'Oreal brands include Maybelline, Lancome, Matrix, Redken, Garnier, Vichy and Helena Rubinstein. In 2006 L'Oreal purchased The Body Shop, which has a reputation for being socially conscious. In 2002, The Body Shop gave a human rights award to a Palestinian Israeli non-profit that advocates for internally displaced refugees in Israel and for the right of return of refugees. Ironically, they are now owned by L’Oreal, which has a factory on an ethnically cleansed village.
ISRAELI BUSINESSES RIGHT HERE IN NYC:
Max Brenner is an Israeli chocolate-store chain, with locations across the globe. Max Brenner is 100% owned by the Israeli company the Strauss Group, which is the second largest Israeli food-and-beverage company and is widely held up as one of the great successes of Israeli industry. Strauss Group is complicit in the wide-ranging violations of human rights conducted by the Israeli army and specifically the Golani Brigade, which it has supported for over 30 years. For more information on the Strauss group and their support for the Golani Brigades as well as information on the violations of human rights carried out by the Golani Brigades, see above under SABRA HUMMUS.
Max Brenner corporate office is located in New York City with a number of branches in the United States and Australia in addition to stores in Singapore and the Phillipines.
AROMA ESPRESSO BAR
Aroma is the largest coffee retailer in Israel. The chain currently has 100 locations in Israel, including in the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim in Jerusalem. All Israeli settlements built in the occupied territories are illegal, according to international law.
Aroma also has several cafés throughout Jerusalem on lands belonging to villages ethnically cleansed in 1948, such as Ayn Karim (Ein Karem). According to the UN Partition Plan of 1947, Ayn Karim was to be administered by an international body, as was all of Jerusalem and its environs. However, Jewish militias occupied the village on July 18, 1948, ethnically cleansing all of the original inhabitants. Today, Israeli Jewish settlers occupy most of the houses.
In 2006, Aroma co-owner Sahar Shefa apologized and agreed to pay NIS 100.000 ($23,000) to Mali Shalev after he was found guilty of racial slander against her. Shefa cursed at Shalev and shouted, “You see my skin color? I’m white and you’re black, I will screw you, this white guy is going to teach you a lesson, you are a black stain. You are a black and inferior woman. You are an idiot. You’re nothing and I make 800 dollars a minute.”
In 2006 Aroma went overseas, with its first international branch opening in New York City, where there are now three locations: 205 East 42nd Street, 161 West 72nd Street, and 145 Greene Street. The Greene Street Aroma has been the site of a number of protests in the last few years.
Aroma also operates in Toronto, Canada, and Kiev, Ukraine. Under the name “marrone rosso”, it does business in Constanta, Romania; Limassol, Cyprus; and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Since November 2007, Adalah-NY has been carrying out an effective boycott campaign against Lev Leviev, one of Israel’s wealthiest and most powerful businessmen. In addition to regular protests in front of Leviev’s flagship US store on 700 Madison Avenue in Manhattan, the campaign against Leviev has succeeded in getting UNICEF, OXFAM, Hollywood celebrities, the UK government, and a number of investment banks to end their connections with Leviev due to his severe violations of human rights and international law in Palestine, Angola, and Namibia. In August 2010, the Norway Ministry of Finance announced the Norwegian Pension Fund’s divestment from Africa Israel and its subsidiary Danya Cebus due to the companies’ settlement construction activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Leviev’s business empire includes a number of diamond and jewelry companies known collectively as Lev Leviev Diamonds (LLD), and he is the world’s largest cutter and polisher of diamonds. He is also deeply involved in diamond sales and in diamond mining in Angola, Namibia, and Russia. In Palestine, Leviev’s companies Africa-Israel and Leader are responsible for the construction of settlements on confiscated Palestinian land; these settlements are destroying Palestinian communities.
Leviev’s company, Africa-Israel, owns the subsidiary Danya Cebus, which is responsible for building 30% of the homes in the Israeli settlement of Mattityahu East on land confiscated from the Palestinian village of Bil’in. The village of Bil’in has been carrying out a multi-pronged campaign since 2005, to resist confiscation of its lands, which has included calls for boycott, legal action, and weekly protests, now well established, with support from Israeli and international activists. Danya Cebus is also responsible for settlement construction in Har Homa on Jabal Abu Ghneim and Ma’ale Adumim in Jerusalem.
Leviev’s company Leader Management and Development owns and is expanding the settlement of Zuffim on the land of the village of Jayyous. Recent reports from Jayyous indicate additional construction of the settlement of Zuffim in ongoing violation of international law and the supposed settlement freeze. Due to the strangulation of Jayyous caused by the construction of Zufim and Israel’s wall, more than 50% of families from this once prosperous farming village are now receiving food aid.
Leviev’s settlement activities are an integral part of Israel’s efforts to seize control of, and annex, strategic areas of the West Bank. Settlements take water and key agricultural areas from Palestinians, carve up Palestinian areas of the West Bank into isolated enclaves, cut off East Jerusalem from the West Bank, and separate the northern and southern West Bank.
Most of the settlements that Leviev has built or is building are located west of the route planned for Israel’s wall, in the West Bank settlement blocs that Israel aims to annex. Indeed, there is clear evidence, according to a report by the Israeli human rights organizations B’Tselem and Bimkom, that the wall’s path deep within the West Bank was drawn with the intention of facilitating the expansion and annexation of these settlements.
Leviev has also been a donor to two Israeli groups - the Land Redemption Fund and the Bukhara Community Trust, both of which have been involved in expanding Israeli settlements. Leviev has also been rumored to donate to Elad which is taking over the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
In January 2010, a police station in the E1 section of Jerusalem was constructed by the right-wing NGO the Bukharan Community Trust, one of whose leaders is Lev Leviev. Construction in E-1 is highly contested internationally, even by Israel’s closest ally, the United States government, due to the fact that it will compromise Palestinian territorial contiguity, obstructing Palestinians’ ability to travel between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank.
Leviev’s Africa-Israel has also violated rights of Palestinian living inside Israel by destroying their homes and heritage. In recently publicized cases, Africa-Israel initiated projects to destroy the remains of, and build on top of, the Palestinian villages of Sheikh Muwanis and Sumail, located in what is now Tel Aviv.
In Angola, Leviev’s close partnership in the diamond trade with the Dos Santos regime supports a repressive and corrupt government. A security company contracted by Leviev was accused of participating in practices of “humiliation, whipping, torture, sexual abuse, and, in some cases, assassinations in Angola.” Further, according to 2007 and 2008 reports by the non-governmental watchdog Partnership Africa Canada, Angola and Leviev have failed to fully comply with the Kimberley process, which aims to eliminate conflict diamonds. And in Namibia, where Leviev operates a diamond polishing factory, in the summer of 2008, Leviev fired around 200 striking workers, some of whom were already struggling to survive on less than $2 (US) per day, the threshold set for poverty worldwide.
In the past few years, Leviev has purchased over a billion dollars’ worth of real estate in Manhattan, including the former Met Life clock-tower, the former New York Times building, and 50% of the Apthorp building. While these purchases evoke images of wealth and glamour, many of his New York City real estate activities have also been characterized by abusive behavior toward communities and workers. Leviev’s construction projects have used underpaid workers laboring in dangerous conditions and have displaced the local low- and moderate-income families.
The Israeli chain Sabon currently has 20 branches in Israel and exploits minerals from the Dead Sea. Israel limits Palestinians’ access to the Dead Sea and prohibits them from using its natural resources. All of Sabon’s products are made in the city of Kiryat Gat, built on land from the demolished Palestinian villages al-Faluja and Iraq al-Manshiyya.
According to Israeli historian Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited (Cambridge University Press, 2004), in 1949 Israeli troops promptly mounted “a short, sharp, well-orchestrated campaign of low-key violence and psychological warfare designed to intimidate the inhabitants [of al-Faluja and Iraq al-Manshiyya] into flight.” During this time, United Nations observers reported not only beatings and robberies faced by Palestinians in the two villages, but also cases of attempted rape and “promiscuous firing” on civilians by Israeli soldiers (Walid Khalidi, All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, [Washington, D.C.: The Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992], 97, 108).
On March 6, 1949, Israel’s foreign minister at the time, Moshe Sharett, sent a memo to the Israeli army, charging that its actions in the villages were jeopardizing their “sincerity as a party to an international agreement” under which Israel agreed to guarantee the safety of the 3,100 Palestinian civilians in the area. Noting that Israel was arguing before the UN that it was not responsible for creating the Palestinian refugee crisis, he wrote, “From this perspective, the sincerity of our professions is tested by our behavior in these villages. . . . Every intentional pressure aimed at uprooting [the local population] is tantamount to a planned act of eviction on our part.”
Sharett also made statements about a “whispering propaganda campaign,” through which the Israeli army was threatening Palestinian civilians with attacks and acts of vengeance if they didn’t leave their homes. “This whispering propaganda is not being done of itself,” Sharett wrote. “There is no doubt that here there is a calculated action aimed at increasing the number of those going to the Hebron Hills [then controlled by Jordan] as if of their own free will, and, if possible, to bring about the evacuation of the whole civilian population” (Khalidi, 97).
By mid-March all of the residents of al-Faluja had fled their village (Khalidi, 97) and on April 21 and 22, residents of Iraq al-Manshiyya fled their homes in convoys organized by the Red Cross. Five days later, Yitzhak Rabin ordered the demolition of both villages.
Israel denies Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned inalienable right to return to their villages. By operating from these villages, Sabon is complicit in violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.