Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East
Adalah-NY Contact: [email protected]
For Immediate Release
On Fourth Anniversary of International Court Ruling, Protesters Call for Settlement-builder Lev Leviev to be Brought to Justice
New York, NY – Thirty human rights advocates held a spirited protest in the rain outside the Leviev jewelry store on Madison Avenue today, demanding that Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev be brought to justice for his companies' construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Many protesters held signs featuring a large cartoon mug shot of Leviev emblazoned with the words, “Wanted, Lev Leviev, For Violating International Law.”
The protest was held on the fourth anniversary of the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague, the world's highest legal body, that both Israeli settlements and the Wall Israel is building inside the West Bank to facilitate settlement expansion, violate international law. From Wednesday through Friday, similar demonstrations are being held in Palestinian towns like Jayyous and Bil’in that are directly affected by Leviev's illegal settlement construction.
Daniel Lang/Levitsky from Jews Against the Occupation, a member group in the Adalah-NY coalition, explained, “Our protest today is part of a growing worldwide movement to boycott and hold accountable Israeli businesses like those of Lev Leviev and his sometime partner Shaya Boymelgreen for abuses of Palestinian rights like settlement construction. We are also actively supporting people in Angola, Namibia and in New York City who are struggling against human rights abuses committed by Leviev’s companies.”
The newspaper The Namibian reported Tuesday that at Leviev's diamond polishing factory in Namibia, 148 employees who earn less than two dollars a day were fired following a three week strike. Last Saturday, Adalah-NY, along with the two-million-member-strong Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and Palestinian civil society groups issued a joint statement supporting the striking workers. In addition to chanting, "All your diamonds cannot hide, your support for Apartheid," New York protesters added new chants focusing on the plight of the striking Namibian workers.
At the Apthorp building in Manhattan, which is 50% owned by Leviev's company Africa Israel, over 100 tenants are living in fear of losing their homes as Leviev and his partner turn the building into a high-priced condo. Yesterday outside the Apthorp, members of Adalah-NY handed out to worried tenants there a two page comic strip entitled "Who Is Lev Leviev and Why Should New Yorkers Steer Clear of Him?" One panel depicts a cartoon Leviev sitting astride the globe and notes, "Actually, Leviev's Empire is built on abused workers and shattered communities across the globe, stretching far beyond NYC." Other panels depict his companies' activities in New York, Angola and Palestine.
Adalah-NY and its allies worldwide have scored a number of victories in the campaign to boycott Leviev's companies. Following a similar decision by Oxfam International, the international children's aid organization UNICEF announced in June that it will no longer accept donations from Leviev due to his atrocious human rights record. The government of Dubai has also announced plans to block Leviev from opening stores in the Emirate. Apparently in defiance of Dubai's announcement, on the door of Leviev's New York store is written, "LEVIEV, LONDON, NEW YORK, MOSCOW, DUBAI." ( Protest photos at: http://adalahny.org/photo-gallery/496/anniversary-icj-ruling-demonstration-leviev-ny-07-09-2008)