United Arab Emirates representatives in New York affirm boycott of Israeli settlement-builder Leviev
Adalah-NY Contact: [email protected]
New York, NY, May 29, 2008 – Officials at the United Arab Emirates Mission to the UN affirmed their government’s commitment to boycotting the businesses of Israeli settlement-builder Lev Leviev in a meeting Tuesday afternoon with representatives from Adalah-NY and Jews Against the Occupation (JATO). Leviev is attempting to open jewelry stores in the Emirate of Dubai and to sell his diamonds there. The UAE officials promised to pass on to their government photos from Dubai, one taken Tuesday, showing that Leviev’s local partner Arif Ben Khadra is currently advertising and selling Leviev’s products in Dubai in defiance of the Emirate boycott policy. As the meeting took place, twelve New Yorker human rights advocates held signs and distributed flyers in the street below in support of the boycott.
Noting that some Dubai sources had indicated that Leviev may still try to open the stores under Leviev or a local partner's name, Adalah-NY's Ethan Heitner explained, "we were glad to learn that officials in the Emirates plan to be diligent in enforcing their ban on Leviev, and not allow their citizens to be deceived by a company that seems intent upon thumbing its nose at both local UAE and international law."
In mid-April, immediately after Leviev announced plans to open two new jewelry stores in Dubai, Adalah-NY called on the government and the people of the Emirate of Dubai to boycott Leviev because of his businesses' involvement in human right abuses and violations of international law in Palestine, Angola and New York City. On April 30, Ali Ebrahim, Deputy Director General for Executive Affairs in Dubai, was quoted in Gulf News saying that authorities had "not granted a trade license to any business of this name" and would not approve the application should one be made. According to Gulf News, Ebrahim "added that Israeli businesses would be prevented from operating in Dubai through non-Israeli partners."
Adalah-NY called for the Tuesday meeting following mixed signals over whether the Dubai boycott was being enforced. While the announcement of the Dubai stores has been removed from Leviev's website, www.leviev.com, Leviev's representatives and his local partner Arif Ben Khadra had expressed a determination to media to move ahead with the two new stores. After stating in the Tuesday meeting that UAE government policy was to boycott Israel, the UAE representatives were clearly taken aback when presented with photos of the website of Leviev's Dubai partner Arif Ben Khadra (www.levantjewellery.com under "Our Boutique") showing Leviev's name emblazoned in large letters on the wall in one of Ben Khadra's "Levant"jewelry stores in Dubai, and a photo taken Tuesday outside Ben Khadra's store in Dubai's Al Qasr Hotel showing Leviev's name in gold next to the store's door. (see photo to right)
Adalah-NY and JATO representatives also handed the UAE representatives a letter from students in the West Bank village of Jayyous where Leviev's companies are building one of their Israeli settlements. To date, approximately 70 percent of Jayyous' land has been confiscated to expand the Jewish-only settlement of Zufim, which is being built by Leviev's company Leader. The letter from Jayyous explains: "We think often of our fellow students who cannot afford to go to universities, students made poor because their families can no longer work on their farms because those lands are now isolated behind the 'separation wall' where Mr. Leviev's bulldozers destroy our grandfathers' trees.... Every Leviev diamond bought in Dubai pays for our oppression and dispossession. Give our proud village the chance to feed itself and grow again -- boycott Mr. Lev Leviev, in Dubai and all over the world."