Business tycoon Lev Leviev’s website boasts a contribution to a human rights organization, but there was no contribution at all.
by Gal Karniel
January 21, 2008
Ma’ariv On-Line (NRG)
Lev Leviev, known for his wealth and philanthropy, volunteered misleading information regarding the destination of his charitable donations.
On December 28th, 2007, Lifestyles Magazine conducted an interview with the philanthropist Leviev. During the interview, several organizations were mentioned as recipients of donations from Leviev, among them Oxfam-US. The donation to Oxfam was also noted in profile pieces and other interviews with Leviev, for example in Women’s Wear Daily on September 5th, 2007. The Lifestyles interview was quoted in full within the magazine of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS (Common-wealth of Independent States), an organization that supports Jewish communities in Russia, Israel, Germany, and the United States. Leviev is currently serving as the organization’s president.
Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 organizations working in cooperation with more than 3,000 partners in more than 100 states, attempting to find long-term solutions to poverty and injustice.
Following the supposed connection between Leviev and Oxfam, the organization Adalah-NY addressed Oxfam in a letter dated January 8th, 2008, which requested that Oxfam not accept donations from Leviev due to his involvement in settlement construction in the West Bank territories, in violation of international law. The letter also referenced Leviev’s exploitation of the Angolan population working in the diamond trade, as well as the employment of workers and craftspeople under exploitative conditions in his Manhattan and Brooklyn enterprises, where many do not receive minimum wage and have complained of wage withholding.
Across from Leviev’s Madison Avenue diamond store, human rights groups hold frequent demonstrations in denunciation of him and his activities.
Following this, Oxfam released a statement on the 13th of January 2008, stating that the organization maintains no connection whatsoever with Leviev. The statement, signed by Alex Renton of Oxfam-Great Britain and Adrienne Smith of Oxfam America, asserts that: “Contrary to various citations, Lev Leviev is not a donor to Oxfam America and has never been one. To the best of our knowledge Mr. Leviev has not been a donor to Oxfam or any of its affiliates. Oxfam International is an organization of 13 national affiliates working in 100 countries, and we are checking thoroughly whether any Oxfam has had any relationship with Mr. Leviev.”
The statement goes on to explain that “Oxfam’s policies on donations are clear. We do not accept donations from businesses involved in illegal activities, or operating in occupied territory, including settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
The Lev Leviev Group transmitted a letter to human rights groups on the 15th of January 2008, stating: “Having fled the yoke of communism as a teenager living in Uzbekistan, Lev Leviev knows oppression firsthand and has used his self-made success to alleviate suffering around the world. His generosity to numerous groups and organizations is motivated by the wish to do good things for others. Despite the negative characterization of his philanthropy by some political groups, Lev Leviev continues to use his philanthropy solely toward that goal.”
Leviev’s response did not arrive prior to the publication of this article.