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Jayyous students to Dubai: boycott settlement-builder Leviev

On May 27, 2008, representatives from Adalah-NY and Jews Against the Occupation (JATO) met with representatives from the United Arab Emirates UN Mission in Manhattan. They presented the UAE representatives with a letter from students from the West Bank village of Jayyous calling on the people of Dubai to boycott Israeli billionaire and settlement-builder Lev Leviev. In mid-April, Leviev announced that he would open two jewelry stores in Dubai. Adalah-NY then called on 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. Leviev’s companies have built settlement homes in Jayyous, in Bil’in, in Har Homa on Jabel abu Ghneim, and in Maale Adumim. 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. Ebrahim “added that Israeli businesses would be prevented from operating in Dubai through non-Israeli partners.” In the May 27 meeting, Adalah-NY and JATO also gave the UAE representatives photos showing that Leviev’s jewelry is being advertised and sold by his Palestinian/Moroccan partner Arif Ben Khadra in his “Levant” stores in Dubai (http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2008/05/97529.html), and asked the UAE to heed the Jayyous students’ boycott call below and enforce their government’s boycott pledge.

We, high school students of English in the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Jayyous, declare our complete opposition to the Israeli businessman Mr. Lev Leviev who is destroying our olive groves that have sustained our village for centuries. Many of our families are not allowed permits by the Israeli occupying forces to work our own lands that Israel’s Wall is stealing for Mr. Leviev so he may expand his settlement “Zufim” onto our village’s farmlands.

We hear that the government of the United Arab Emirates has stopped Mr. Leviev from opening his diamond stores in Dubai Emirate. We ask the government and the people of Dubai to prevent the sale to customers in Dubai of “Leviev’s rocks of apartheid,” which will be used by Mr. Leviev to build more settlements on Jayyous’ lands.

How do we describe to the world what our life is like in occupied Jayyous in Palestine? The sadness in the eyes of our neighbors, whose only farmlands have been confiscated to build a settlement financed by Mr. Lev Leviev; the exhaustion that results when every daily action requires an extraordinary effort and when despair fights for a place on our people’s faces, as they carry their bags and babies through checkpoints, passing soldiers and tanks.

On rainy days the water swells around our feet while we are going to our schools in Jayyous and Qalqilia. On the other hand, Israeli soldiers stand in shelters and never seem to get wet under their helmets and uniforms. They pull us out of our cars and line us up facing the wall. They sometimes make us sit in the dirt or in the rain, or under the hot sun while they chat on their mobile phones, joke with their friends, eat, smoke, and insult us with their words and their actions.

How do we explain how it feels when the wind blows and fill our noses with dust, and with the smell of sewage and garbage? Everyday, we feel more insecure, as curfews prevent pregnant women from giving birth in hospitals, and stop ambulances in their tracks, forcing some families to live with the decaying corpses of their family members for days.

What has increased our feeling of insecurity as students is the growing number of school days missed, the invasion and closure of the schools by Israeli forces, the number of teachers who cannot get to work, and the number of Palestinian prisoners who are without adequate food, water, sanitation, trials and family visits. These provocative practices that we grew up with in Jayyous have created many psychological problems for us. 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.

We think about the flood of indignities at the checkpoints. All our dreams for the future have been negatively affected and it’s becoming too challenging to fulfill them. As students we always dream of preparing for the future, but unfortunately many obstacles, such as curfews, Walls, closures, and unpredictable checkpoints are preventing their realization.

We hope for all students to live in peace, justice, freedom and love. 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.