New York, NY, April 18 – New York human rights activists, and representatives of the West Bank Palestinian villages of Bil’in and Jayyous called on the government and the people of the United Arab Emirates to boycott the jewelry stores of Israeli billionaire and diamond magnate Lev Leviev over his companies’ construction of Israeli settlements. According to a flurry of recent media reports, Leviev is opening jewelry stores in Dubai during 2008.
“We call on the government and people of the United Arab Emirates to join the growing international campaign to boycott Lev Leviev’s companies due to their construction of Israeli colonial settlements, and their human rights violations in Angola,” declared Daniel
Lang-Levitsky of Jews Against the Occupation-NYC. “A major Israeli violator of Palestinian rights and international law should not be opening jewelry stores in Dubai,” added Adalah-NY spokesperson Issa Ayoub. Adalah-NY has organized eight boycott protests outside Leviev’s new Madison Avenue jewelry store over the last five months.
In the last few days, media have reported that Lev Leviev Diamonds will open two stores in Dubai this year. In the fourth quarter of 2008, construction will begin on a store to be located in the Burj Dubai Mall. The second will open in September in the new Atlantis Hotel on Jumeirah Palm Island. Leviev has already opened one store in Dubai in March, 2008 in the lobby of Al-Qasr Hotel on Madinat Jumeirah.
Leviev’s company Leader is building the settlement of Zufim on the land of the West Bank village of Jayyous. The company Danya Cebus, a subsidiary of Leviev’s Africa-Israel, has also built Israeli settlements on the land of the village of Bil’in, and has built homes in Maale Adumim and Har Homa on Jabal Abu Ghneim, encircling and cutting off East Jerusalem from the West Bank. Israel is building its wall to the east of all these settlements, with the aim of annexing them to Israel. Leviev also donates to the Land Redemption Fund, an Israeli settler organization which has used deceit and strong-arm tactics to secure Israeli-occupied Palestinian land for settlements in villages like Bil’in and Jayyous.
Israeli settlements directly violate international law according to the UN, all major human rights organizations and the International Court of Justice’s 2004 advisory opinion on Israel’s wall. The IJC’s opinion also said that states are responsible for ensuring that Israel complies with international law.
Abdullah Abu-Rahme from Bil’in and Sharif Omar from Jayyous explained, “Leviev’s companies are destroying the olive groves and farms that have sustained our villages for centuries, and are
profiting from human rights abuses.” The growing international movement to boycott Israel has developed in response to the 2005 Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) call by 171 Palestinian civil society organizations (www.bds-palestine.net) asking for “people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to” apartheid South Africa in order to end “Israel’s
persistent violations of international law,” and “colonial and discriminatory policies.”
In Angola, Leviev works closely with the repressive Dos Santos regime to mine and sell the country’s diamonds, and he employs the private security firm K&P Mineira, which has been accused of torturing, sexually abusing and even murdering Angolans. According to the
non-profit watchdog group Partnership Africa Canada, around 10% of the diamonds sold from Angola, including some of Leviev’s, fail to comply with the Kimberley Process which was created to end the trade in “blood diamonds.”
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