New York, NY - New York human rights activists rejected Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev's defense of his record, repeated their call for a boycott of Leviev due to his construction of illegal Israeli settlements, and announced a third protest for December 8 at 1 PM. The protest will feature a performance of dabka, the traditional Palestinian folk dance. Adalah-NY has organized two protests and four days of leafleting at Leviev's Madison Avenue jewelry store since it opened two weeks ago.
"Leviev claims that we are ignorant of his activities. We know that he is destroying West Bank Palestinian communities like Bil'in and Jayyous with the Israeli settlements his companies are building," said Ethan Heitner of Adalah-NY. "The five settlements where he has built homes threaten to derail the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians that started in Annapolis last week. They carve the West Bank into disconnected enclaves, seize valuable resources, and isolate Jerusalem, rendering the creation of a viable Palestinian state impossible. Leviev's philanthropy in other parts of the world is small compensation for his contribution to inflaming arguably the world's most important political conflict."
According to a November 21 article in the National Jeweler Network, representatives of Leviev asserted that the New York City protests are "politically motivated" and that those who criticize Leviev and his companies "are not aware of the extensive humanitarian work of the group, including building schools, orphanages and fostering economic development in communities around the world."
All Israeli settlements violate international law. In addition to building settlements, Leviev is a primary donor to the right-wing Israeli organization the Land Redemption Fund, according to a January 28, 2004 article in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. The Land Redemption Fund devotes its large budget to securing Palestinian land for Israeli settlement expansion, allegedly with the aid of deceit and strong arm-tactics. While Leviev donates to charities like UNICEF and Oxfam, up to half the population of the farming village of Jayyous is now on food aid, according to a September 23, 2006 article in The Financial Times, because the village is being choked by the expansion of Leviev's all-Jewish settlement of Zufim.
Here in New York City, Leviev and his former partner Shaya 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, according to a campaign by the Laborers' Union and ACORN. In Angola, where he mines most of his diamonds, Leviev works in close partnership with the repressive Dos Santos regime. Angolan human rights activist Rafael Marques has also accused Leviev's security company of torture, sexual abuse and assassination.
The theme of the December 8 protest is Dabka and Dreidels vs. Diamonds. Activists from diverse backgrounds, will perform the Palestinian dance of dabka, and celebrate Hanukah. With a musical band, street theater and dance, participants will encourage New Yorkers to buy gifts that don't fund oppression. Adalah-NY has found that few people shop at LEVIEV New York after learning of Leviev's abuse of marginalized communities in Palestine, Angola and New York. The campaign of creative actions at the store will continue through the holiday shopping season, and then expand throughout New York City.