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New York, May 2 – During the run-up to Mother’s Day in the US, over 100 women from around the world have signed a letter from Adalah-NY calling for a boycott of Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev’s diamonds because his companies are destroying the lives of Palestinian mothers. Mother’s Day, on May 11, is the third biggest shopping period for jewelry in the US. Women will begin flyering on Saturday May 3 at Leviev’s Madison Avenue store, asking shoppers to honor the boycott call. The Mother’s Day boycott call comes just days after government officials in Dubai honored a boycott call from Adalah-NY by announcing that Leviev had no license to open jewelry stores in the Emirate.
The boycott letter, initiated after Leviev placed a quarter-page ad for his New York City jewelry store on The New York Times op-ed page on April 30 as the Mother’s Day shopping period began, garnered more than 100 outraged women’s signatures in 24 hours, and is expected to be signed by many more. Adalah-NY spokesperson Riham Barghouti explained, “With our governments failing to act, the only way to end the suffering of Palestinian mothers and their families is to boycott Israeli companies like Leviev’s that profit from the illegal activities of land confiscation and settlement construction. No diamond is worth the destruction of people’s lives.”
New York women will begin distributing a Mother’s Day card to Madison Avenue shoppers in front of Leviev’s store on Saturday May 3 from 1:30 – 3:00 PM. The Mother’s Day card will highlight Leviev’s companies’ practices that harm Palestinian women and will include the Mother’s Day boycott letter.
The boycott letter includes testimonies from Palestinian mothers Halima Husain from Jayyous and M’azuza Abu Rahmeh from Bil’in, two West Bank villages where Leviev’s companies have recently built homes in expanding Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. M’azuza Abu Rahmeh from Bil’in explains, “I hope that on this important day for mothers that no women in the world will have to live through this type of experience and that instead they will live with their families and homes, in security and peace.” Halima Husain from Jayyous, adds, “I hope that free people around the world will boycott Israel’s occupation and will not support businesses of wealthy Israelis like Leviev who is building the settlement of Zufim, and that they will stand with us to lift this shadow and darkness that hangs over the Palestinian people.”
Like many in their villages, both Halima Husain and M’azuza Abu Rahmeh have seen their family’s farmland bulldozed or cut off for Israeli settlement expansion. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem documented in a 2005 report that Israel’s West Bank separation wall was specifically built in a manner so as to isolate Jayyous and Bil’in’s agricultural land and facilitate Israeli settlement expansion. Halima Husain explains that because her family can no longer reach their agricultural land, their income is insufficient to cover her son’s university education and household expenses. M’azuza Abu Rahmeh and her children participated in nonviolent community protests to attempt to prevent their family’s olive trees from being uprooted for settlements, but her son was seriously injured by Israeli soldiers during the protests and later arrested from their home during the night.
In addition to the Zufim settlement on Jayyous’ land and the Mattityahu East settlement on Bil’in’s land, Leviev’s companies have also recently built homes in Har Homa on Jabal Abu Ghneim, and in Maale Adumim, two settlements which aim to isolate East Jerusalem from the West Bank Leviev has also been an important donor to the settler organization the Land Redemption Fund that has used deceit and strong-arm tactics to secure Palestinian land for settlement expansion.
In Dubai, in a sudden reversal, just 16 days after Leviev publicly announced plans to open two new jewelry stores this year the Emirate, a high-level Dubai government official said that Leviev had no trade license to open a store in there. The April 30th report in Dubai’s Gulf News followed a flurry of media coverage of the April 18 call by Palestinians and New York activists for Dubai to boycott Leviev’s businesses over his companies’ settlement construction in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.