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NYCers Say: Don't Break Palestinian Hearts On V-Day
New York protesters call for Valentine's boycott of Leviev's jewelry over Israeli settlements
Fifty-five New York rights advocates called today on the city's shoppers to boycott Israeli diamond mogul and settlement-builder Lev Leviev. The pre-Valentine's Day protest was the 13th demonstration held in front of Leviev's Madison Avenue jewelry store since it opened in November, 2007. Many New York shoppers paused to look at the heart-shaped signs and a Dating Game skit featuring a protester playing Leviev, and to listen to the noisy chants and the song "Lev's Diamonds are a Crime's Best Friend."The protesters oppose Leviev's construction of Israeli settlements on Occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law, as well as his abuses of marginalized communities in Angola, Namibia and New York. Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY explained, "The campaign to boycott Leviev is part of a growing international movement to boycott Israeli businesses due to their involvement in human rights abuses. We had more people protesting today and the boycott movement is growing worldwide due to outrage over Israel's attack on Gaza, which killed approximately 1300 Palestinians, over 400 of whom were children."
Heart-shaped, red signs help by the protesters included the slogans, "Palestine is Forever," and "Lev, Don't Break Palestinians' Hearts." In a Dating Game-like skit, a Leviev character tried to win the hearts of protesters acting as Susan Sarandon, Isabel Dos Santos, the daughter of Angola's ruler, and Leviev's Dubai partner Palestinian-Moroccan Arif Ben Khadra. After the Sarandon character termed the accusations of rights abuses against Leviev "too complex to judge" and the Dos Santos character left to tend to Angola's exploitative diamond industry, Leviev and Ben Khadra were left as the winning couple, sharing a common strong preference for money over ethics.
Leviev's settlement construction directly challenges the new Obama Administration. In his 2001 "Mitchell Report," former U.S. Senator and current Obama peace envoy George Mitchell called for an immediate end to Israeli settlement construction, noting "the humiliation and frustration that Palestinians must endure every day as a result of living with the continuing effects of occupation, sustained by the presence of Israeli military forces and settlements in their midst . . . ." Israeli settlements violate international law and cut the West Bank into disconnected Bantustans, undermining hopes for an independent Palestinian state. Due to his companies' rights abuses, Leviev has been renounced by UNICEF and Oxfam, and major Hollywood stars are quietly distancing themselves from Leviev.
Leviev has donated to the Land Redemption Fund, a non-profit that seizes Palestinian land for settlement-development. The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz Daily revealed on November 1st with the help of the Land Redemption Fund, a major, 23-acre settlement industrial zone is being built on Palestinian land near the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron.
Leviev's companies have been building housing units on occupied Palestinian land in such settlements as Mattityahu East, Zufim, Har Homa and Maale Adumim. Recently, Leviev's company Leader began building 35 new housing units in Zufim on the village of Jayyous' land. And in the West Bank village of Bil'in, Danya Cebus, a subsidiary of Leviev's Africa-Israel, has completed construction of approximately 500 settlement housing units, and is now preparing the ground for more construction.
Protest photos: http://adalahny.org/index.php/photo-galleries/286-leviev-valentines-day-2009