Press Release

Press Release

In Ha’aretz interview Leviev “spins” protests against his companies’ settlement construction

Adalah-NY: [email protected],

(see excerpt from Ha'aretz interview below)

New York, NY, March 7 – In a rare interview in the March 7 English edition of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz Daily, Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev responded to questions about recent protests and calls for a boycott of his companies in response to their settlement construction in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Issa Mikel, a spokesperson for Adalah-NY - the group that has organized eight protests outside Leviev’s Manhattan jewelry store since it opened last November - commented, “Leviev’s responses were disingenuous and troubling. Leviev neglected to mention that his company Leader is building the settlement of Zufim, that he is a major donor to a company that acquires Palestinian land for settlements, and that all Israeli settlements violate international law. Leviev also portrayed his company’s monopoly over Gaza’s fuel supply as somehow charitable. Finally, as independent human rights activists, we challenge Leviev to provide evidence to support the completely false accusation he made that we have any relationship with or are “funded by business competitors.”

Press Release

Academy says not responsible for stars wearing diamonds tainted by Leviev's rights abuses

Adalah-NY Contact: [email protected],

New York, NY, Feb 24 – A representative for the Academy Awards said today that the Academy has nothing to do with whether stars at the Oscars wear jewelry provided by Lev Leviev, the controversial Israeli settlement builder and diamond mogul who has been accused of supporting human rights abuses in Angola, New York City and Palestine. Leviev is lending his jewelry to some attendees of the 80th annual Academy Awards this Sunday, according to Warner Brothers’ ExtraTV. Leviev’s controversial loan of jewelry to the stars for the Oscars is making waves in Israel, with coverage by Maariv on-line, the news site for Israel's second largest newspaper.

An Adalah-NY representative spoke by phone today with Leslie Unger, Director of Communications at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, who said that, "We don't have anything to do with the jewelry or fashions our presenters or guests choose to wear." When pressed Unger said she had no comment on the likelihood that jewelry tainted by Leviev’s rights abuses would be worn at the Oscars.

The annual Hollywood ceremony had been jeopardized by a protracted strike of the Writers Guild, over revenue generated by writers’ online work. Ironically, Leviev has also been at the center of labor disputes in New York City involving unpaid wages. New York construction workers sued Leviev and his former US partner Shaya Bolmelgreen over withheld wages, and, according to the Laborers Union, have complained of dangerous work conditions, allegedly resulting in accidents and serious injuries.

Sadly, just one year after the film Blood Diamond was nominated for five Oscars, there is a chance that tainted Angolan diamonds that bypass the Kimberley Process which aims to eliminate trade in “conflict diamonds” will be worn by stars at the Academy Awards. According to the 2007 “Diamond Industry Annual Review” for Angola by the watchdog organization Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), “the Angolan Kimberley System has no way of tracking” around 10% of Angola’s “diamonds back to source.” As a result, there are “more than a million carats per year exiting Angola… with the murkiest credentials.” The company Ascorp, which buys these diamonds and which Leviev co-owns, is directly involved in these failings. Furthermore, private security companies employed by Leviev in the mining districts in northeast Angola have been accused by Angolan human rights monitor Rafael Marques of "humiliation, whipping, torture, sexual abuse, and, in some cases, assassinations.” Leviev has close ties with Angola’s repressive and corrupt Dos Santos regime which has failed to hold elections since 1992.

Leviev’s companies have also built homes in five Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in violation of international law. The settlements that Leviev has built seize vital resources and divide Palestinian territories into isolated enclaves, destroying hopes for the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

Leviev became involved in a flap with the international charity Oxfam after the New York human rights coalition Adalah-NY contacted Oxfam on January 8 following media reports that Oxfam had accepted support from Leviev. In response, Oxfam stated publicly that Leviev had never been an Oxfam donor, nor would they accept donations from any individual who constructs settlements in occupied territory in contravention of international humanitarian law. Twenty days after Adalah-NY raised the issue, an article which claimed that Leviev donated to Oxfam was finally removed from the news site belonging to an organization of which Leviev is the president.

After attending the gala opening of Leviev's first US jewelry store in Manhattan, actress Susan Sarandon was approached by Israeli, Palestinian and US human rights organizations urging her to cut ties with the billionaire. An open letter sent to Sarandon from the US-based Jewish Voice for Peace noted Leviev's alleged misdeeds in Angola, Burma, New York, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories saying: "Leviev's strong support of the settlements seriously compromises any efforts at a just peace in the region. His efforts to expropriate more lands from Palestinians, using both financial and strong-arm tactics, greatly increase Palestinian suffering. . . As Jews who yearn and work for a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis, we implore you to take a public stand against Leviev.”

Press Release

Adalah-NY: [email protected]

New York, NY, Feb 22 - Lev Leviev, the Israeli settlement builder and diamond mogul who has been accused of supporting human rights abuses in Angola, Burma, New York City and Palestine, is lending his jewelry to some attendees of the 80th annual Academy Awards this Sunday. The jewelry loan was reported by Warner Brothers ExtraTV. Leviev has made a concerted effort to associate himself and his businesses with global elites, but a barrage of negative publicity related to these rights abuses has tarnished Leviev’s image, suggesting that, as NY Jewish Week wrote recently, “For Leviev, All that Glitters Isn’t Gold.” Human rights campaigners from Adalah-NY have pledged to contact Academy Award organizers and attendees to voice their concerns over Leviev’s involvement.

The annual Hollywood ceremony had been jeopardized by a protracted strike of the Writers Guild, which had been denied a share of revenue generated by their work online. Ironically, Leviev himself has also been at the center of labor disputes in New York City involving unpaid wages. Workers at construction sites co-owned by Leviev and Shaya Bolmelgreen in New York City have filed suits over withheld wages, and, according to the Laborers Union, have complained of dangerous work conditions, allegedly resulting in accidents and serious injuries.

Press Release

New York & London protesters call for Valentine’s boycott of Leviev over Israeli settlements

Adalah-NY Contact: [email protected]

New York, NY – Forty-five protesters called on Madison Avenue shoppers to boycott the jewelry store of Israeli billionaire and settlement magnate Lev Leviev this Saturday, the last major shopping day before Valentine’s Day. The protest was the seventh organized by the New York activist group Adalah-NY since Leviev’s store opened in mid-November.

Londoners also joined the campaign to boycott Leviev, with 25 human rights activists picketing outside Leviev’s Old Bond St. store Saturday. The protesters in New York and London oppose Leviev’s construction of Israeli settlements on Occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law, as well as his abuse of marginalized communities in Angola, where he mines diamonds, and in New York City where he develops real estate.

Facing the shop window at LEVIEV New York which was emblazoned with the words “Celebrate Love with Leviev” in pink, the New York protesters carried red, heart-shaped signs saying “Settlements are Heartless,” “Have a Heart Leviev” and “Won’t You be Just.” Protesters sang a parody, vaudeville-style version of “Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend,” including the lyrics:

“Lev grows bold, With billions sold, And Palestine starves while you spend,”
“No matter what they say, Apartheid's the endgame, Lev's diamonds are a crime's best friend.”

In an assertion of Palestinian identity in defiance of Israeli efforts to destroy their culture, the Palestine Liberation Dance Troupe performed the Palestinian folkdance dabkeh, including fellahi wedding dances. They danced to traditional Palestinian wedding songs celebrating love including, “Ya Zareef Atool” and “Dalouna.”

The protesters performed a racy parody of “The Dating Game” entitled “The One Date Solution, for those who want to settle”, featuring a contestant named Lev who was wooed by three other contestants - a pro-Israel legal scholar and author of the book “The Case for Ethnic Cleansing” named Alana; the daughter of a repressive African dictator with extensive diamond holdings; and Lev’s spurned ex-Brooklyn real estate partner. In response to a criticism of his human rights record from one contestant, Lev explained, “Lev means never having to say you’re sorry.” But “The Dating Game” ended before Lev was able to choose a date because the audience voted Lev out of New York City and Palestine. Also displayed at the protest was a six foot JDate profile for Leviev which noted, among other things, “In my free time, I enjoy: Exploitation, Profiteering, Union-Busting, and Macrame.”

An Adalah-NY representative tried to deliver a three foot by two foot heart-shaped valentine to the store for Leviev. The valentine featured photos from Palestinian villages like Bil’in and Jayyous where Leviev’s companies are building Israeli settlements, and hand-written messages from protesters like “Stop the Land Theft”, “Jews say no to apartheid,” and “Where’s the love Lev?” However, store staff refused to accept the valentine, saying that Adalah-NY should mail it to Leviev.

In London, 25 demonstrators from Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, together with support from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the Wall and Jews for Justice for Palestinians held a Valentine's Day protest outside the jewelry shop Leviev in normally sedate Old Bond Street London, holding placards, and leafleting to curious passers by. The posters highlighted Leviev's settlement construction in Bil'in and Jayyous, and included the violence of uprooting olive trees and armed soldiers’ assaults against Palestinian farmers.

NY photos.

NY protest video.

London protest video:

Press Release

Film screened in front of Leviev New York about Palestinian village protesting Leviev’s settlements

Adalah-NY Contact: [email protected]

New York, NY – Twenty-five New York protesters and dozens of Madison Avenue passers-by braved sub-freezing temperatures Monday evening to watch the award winning documentary “Bil’in My Love” on the sidewalk 20 feet from the Madison Avenue jewelry store of Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev. Leviev’s company Danya Cebus has been building the Israeli settlement of Mattityahu East on the land of the West Bank village of Bil’in, threatening the village’s survival. The film, by Israeli director Shai Pollak, documents the first two years of Bil’in’s three year creative, nonviolent struggle to save its land from Israel’s wall and Leviev’s settlements.

Adalah-NY spokesperson Ethan Heitner explained, “The screening tonight brought images of the impacts of Leviev’s violations of international law in Palestine and the courageous resistance of his victims to his Manhattan doorstep, in one of wealthiest neighborhoods in the world.” The protest, organized by the New York activist group Adalah-NY and calling for a boycott of Leviev, was the sixth held at LEVIEV New York since the store opened in November.

“Bil’in My Love,” won Best Documentary at the 2006 Jerusalem Film Festival, and a special award at the 2006 Rotterdam film festival. On the US holiday honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., hundreds of passers-by received flyers with photos juxtaposing the Palestinian struggle for freedom with the struggle against Apartheid South Africa and the US civil rights struggle of African-Americans.

The Israeli military has injured over 800 Israeli, Palestinian and international protesters in more than 200 demonstrations in Bil’in over three years. 49 Bil'in residents, including some protest leaders, have been arrested. Some spent months in prison. The flyer quoted Mohammed Khatib from Bil’in’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, and Sharif Omar of Jayyous’ Land Defense Committee explaining that, “We are engaged in a struggle for justice, for our freedom – indeed, for our very lives . . . . Leviev is destroying the olive groves and farms that have sustained our villages for centuries, and is profiting from human rights abuses.”

In addition to Mattityahu East, Leviev’s company Danya Cebus is building homes in the illegal settlements of Har Homa and Maale Adumim, surrounding East Jerusalem. Leviev’s company Leader is building the settlement of Zufim on the land of the village of Jayyous, the site of another long Palestinian nonviolent campaign. Leviev has been a major donor to the Land Redemption Fund, an Israeli organization that uses dubious means to secure Palestinian land to expand settlements. All Israeli settlements are widely deemed illegal under international law.

Dor Energy, a company which is 26% owned by Leviev’s company Africa Israel and is the monopoly fuel supplier to the Gaza Strip, has plunged Gaza City into darkness by participating in a cut of the fuel supply to Gaza with the Israeli government. In Angola, where Leviev mines many of his diamonds, a security firm he employs has been accused of brutal human rights abuses against Angolans. In New York City, Leviev, along with his former New York business partner Shaya Boymelgreen, was the target of a campaign by the ACORN and the Laborers Union in Brooklyn for their use of underpaid non-union labor to carry out sub-standard development projects.

Leviev has recently been caught up in a controversy—covered by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Ma’ariv and The Chronicle of Philanthropy—over media reports that he supports the charity Oxfam. Oxfam has reviewed its records and denies these claims, noting that Oxfam refuses donations from businesses that violate international law.

Issa Mikel of Adalah-NY noted that, “We’ll be back at LEVIEV New York with a bigger protest on Saturday, February 9 to tell New York shoppers that buying Leviev’s jewelry for Valentine’s Day supports the abuse of marginalized communities in Palestine, Angola, and right here in New York City.”

Jan. 21 photos.

Press Release

Correcting media reports, Oxfam says received no support from Leviev, condemns Israeli settlements

Adalah-NY Contacts: [email protected]

New York, NY, Jan 14, 2008 – Correcting earlier media reports of a relationship between Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev and Oxfam, Oxfam told the New York City human rights group Adalah-NY that “Leviev has not been a donor to Oxfam.” Oxfam explained that it does not “knowingly accept funds from any business involved in any illegal activity, or operating in any illegally occupied territory, including settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.” Following reports that Leviev contributes to Oxfam in Women’s Wear Daily, Lifestyles Magazine and on the news site of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS, of which Leviev is the President, Adalah-NY had written to Oxfam asking the international charity to reject contributions from Leviev. There was no immediate explanation of why these publications had reported that Leviev supported Oxfam.

Press Release

Israeli women, Palestinians, and US Jews ask Susan Sarandon to boycott Israeli billionaire Leviev

Adalah-NY Contacts: [email protected]

New York, NY, Jan 2, 2008 – Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace has called on US actress Susan Sarandon to publicly disavow connections with the businesses of Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev due to his companies’ construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This follows similar requests to Sarandon by leading Palestinian civil society organizations, the Palestinian villages of Bil’in and Jayyous where Leviev is building settlements, the US group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and Adalah-NY.

The New York Post reported on November 17 that Sarandon crossed a picket line of human rights campaigners from Adalah-NY to attend the November 13 opening of the Madison Avenue jewelry store LEVIEV New York. Responding to Adalah-NY’s later request that Sarandon boycott Leviev, her assistant told Adalah-NY that Sarandon was exploring the topic. The New York Post reported on December 24 that Sarandon’s representative said that, “She has no ties to any jewelry company,” responding to JVP’s letter asking Sarandon “to publicly sever all connections with him and his company.”

In a December 31st letter, Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace, representing ten women’s peace organizations in Israel, expressed admiration for Sarandon’s work “for immigrants' rights, for the recognition and visibility of LGBT communities, and [her] inspiringly outspoken resistance to the war in Iraq.” The coalition confirmed Leviev’s settlement construction and further wrote that, “Developers and investors who take part in maintaining the occupation and the settlement industry must be made publicly accountable for their actions. We ask you to join us in publicly disavowing Lev Leviev's businesses until he withdraws his involvement in any such projects.”

Six Palestinian organizations - the Steering Committee for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign representing 171 Palestinian civil society organizations - wrote Sarandon in a December 28 letter that, “it is of crucial importance that prominent figures come out to speak about justice and against war and occupation everywhere.” They invited Sarandon to visit and see “the reality produced by Israeli occupation and apartheid.” Calling boycott “a non-violent, civil form of pressure against Israel”, they wrote, “Inspired by… the global movement to isolate apartheid South Africa, Palestinian civil society has called… on the world to start once again a boycott movement in the pursuit of justice.”

The urgent need for international pressure to counter Israel's abuses was driven home again on January 1 in the West Bank village of Bil'in. Settlers, emboldened by years of free reign and lawlessness, attempted to claim land belonging to Bil’in by placing two trailers on it, disregarding an Israeli Supreme Court ruling that land must be returned to Bil'in, following nearly three years of nonviolent protest by the village. Two community leaders from Bil’in risked their lives by lying under the dangling trailers to prevent their placement on the ground. After badly beating the two community leaders and a Palestinian videographer, the settlers managed to install the trailers.

Mohammed Khatib and Sharif Omar, representatives of Bil’in and Jayyous, wrote in a December 26 letter that Leviev’s settlements are “destroying the olive groves and farms that have sustained our villages for centuries.” The two villages, known for their long nonviolent protest campaigns, invited Sarandon to visit, adding that, “We are engaged in a struggle for justice, for our freedom – indeed, for our very lives. We call on you, Ms. Sarandon, to… stand with us in our struggle to save our land and our communities.”

Issa Mikel, a spokesperson for Adalah-NY, explained, “All Israeli settlements violate international law. Ms. Sarandon has repeatedly and publicly stood up for the human rights of diverse groups. We encourage her to do the same for Palestinians, and eliminate any misperception that she condones Leviev’s settlement construction.” Adalah-NY has now organized five protests at Leviev’s jewelry store.

For all letters and articles re Sarandon and Leviev:

Press Release

New York Human Rights Carolers Renew Protest of Lev Leviev's Israeli Settlements

Contact: [email protected]

New York, NY – In an encore of their December 22 performance, forty New York human rights carolers sang revised versions of holiday tunes today in front of the jewelry store LEVIEV New York to protest Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev's destruction of marginalized communities in Palestine, Angola and Brooklyn. This was the fifth protest at Leviev's Madison Ave jewelry store since its grand opening on November 13.

Highlighting Leviev's complicity in human rights violations and highly unethical business practices around the world, participants sang creative versions of 11 holiday songs and a Palestinian folk song. With upscale Madison Avenue shoppers pausing to listen, and to the tunes of songs like "Deck the Halls," "Hanukah Oh Hanukah", and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", the carolers serenaded Leviev's staff with lyrics like:

"We wish you a loss of business, we wish you a loss of business,
We wish you a loss of business, and a poor fiscal year,

Apartheid is how, Leviev gets rich,
Screwing workers and Angolans, Through-ou-out the year."

Leviev is building homes in at least four Israeli colonial settlements in the West Bank. All Israeli settlements violate international law, according to a broad international consensus. In Angola, where Leviev has an agreement with the corrupt Dos Santos regime to mine the country's diamonds, Leviev employs a security firm accused of physically abusing Angolan citizens. Leviev has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in New York real estate, and his developments with ex-partner Shaya Boymelgreen have been severely criticized by ACORN, the Laborers' Union and others.

The New York protesters are coordinating their campaign with civil society groups in Palestine, including the West Bank village of Bil'in which is threatened with the loss of 50% of its land due to Leviev's construction of homes in the Modi'in Illit settlement. On Friday, residents of Bil'in, along with Israeli and international activists, continued their three-year campaign of non-violent protest against Israel's wall and settlement activity by marching to their land, chanting slogans and carrying signs. Bil'in's Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements "called for a boycott of Lev Leviev … noting that Leviev invests in building developments in at least four colonies on occupied Palestinian lands, and that the colonies violate international law."

Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY commented that, "Israel's deliberate policy of moving its Jewish citizens into the West Bank is in clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which explicitly prohibits the transfer of population into occupied land. That means Leviev profits directly from human rights violations. Though the holiday shopping season is ending, Adalah-NY will continue our campaign with creative protests in the New Year. Women's Wear Daily reported in September that Leviev plans to open a new jewelry store in Dubai, so we're working to expand our campaign to there as well."

For more on Adalah-NY and this campaign:
Some previous media coverage of this campaign:
-Diamond Billionaire Takes New York, Marissa Brostoff, The Forward, Nov. 14, 2007;
-Her Best Friends, Paula Froelich, The New York Post, Nov. 17, 2007;
-Jeweler Foes Blast Sarandon, Richard Johnson, New York Post, December 24, 2007;
-From Bil'in to Madison Avenue, Nimrod Halperin, Ha'aretz's The Marker , December 25, 2007 .

Press Release

New York Human Rights Carolers Debut Songs Protesting Lev Leviev’s Israeli Settlements


New York, NY  - Fifty New York human rights carolers sang parodies of holiday tunes today in front of LEVIEV New York to protest Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev's destruction of communities in Palestine, Angola and in New York City. This was the fourth protest at Leviev's Madison Avenue jewelry store since its gala opening on November 13.

A diverse group of enthusiastic participants sang loud and creative versions of 11 traditional holiday songs. Carolers serenaded upscale Madison Avenue shoppers and New York City police with the debut performance of "I Made a Little Settlement" to the tune of "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel":

"Apartments for Jews only, Discrimination, sure!
He thinks Palestine's the problem, and Apartheid is the cure!"

"Oh boycott boycott boycott, Don't buy Leviev today
Funds crime with all that profit, Who needs diamonds anyway?"

Press Release

New York, NY -  Winning actress and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Susan Sarandon has told a New York City activist group, Adalah-NY, that she is exploring Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev's construction of Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and exploitation of marginalized communities in other parts of the world. Sarandon was responding to a letter from Adalah-NY requesting that she boycott Leviev. According to The New York Post, Sarandon attended the November 13 gala opening of Leviev's Madison Avenue jewelry boutique LEVIEV New York, as Adalah-NY protested Leviev's illegal activities outside.