November 21, 2007

Palestine protestors' press prize

I've spent over half an hour thinking up that headline and it's not even any good, I know. I'll do anything for a bit of alliteration. Anyway, what am I talking about? Well, it's this Leviev picket thing. Thirty protestors picketed the opening of the Leviev jewellery store in New York a few days ago and then repeated the effort yesterday (or maybe the day before). No big deal really except this has now made it into the mainstream press and the jewellery trade press. Here's the New York Post:
SUSAN Sarandon will cross a picket line - if there are diamonds on the other side. The actress waded through a throng of picketers to get to a cocktail party for the Leviev jewelry store launch on Madison Avenue this week. A group carrying Palestinian flags was on the sidewalk protesting the Finesse Diamond Corp., which provides gems to Leviev, and Leviev's construction of "illegal West Bank settlements." They were shouting, "You're glitz, you're glam, you're building on Palestinian land" and "Occupation is a drag, just say no to your gift bag." Our source reports that Sarandon went in and "tried not to notice the yells outside."
Now I didn't get that reference to Susan Sarandon crossing a picket line for diamonds, as if she wouldn't cross one for anything else. The coverage of the picket in the National Jeweler Network clarified that one for me:
A grand-opening celebration for the new Leviev store was held on Nov. 13, and stars including actresses Isabella Rossellini and Susan Sarandon, who is known for her political activism, attended.
Ah, now I see. She supports oppressed people as long as the oppressors aren't Israel.

The pickets and the coverage have force the Leviev company on to a hilarious defensive. Look:
Leviev President and Chief Operating Officer Thierry Chaunu said the protests have "nothing to do with his company" and referred further questions to public relations firm Edelman.

A representative from Edelman was not immediately available for comment.
In a follow up article in the same National Jeweler Network, there is more detail on the protest itself:
In a loud and eye-catching protest, about 40 people, lead by the group Adalah-NY, sung and danced outside, chanting "you sparkle, you shine, but settlements are still a crime," and "how fancy, how pretty, Leviev out of New York City."

The protest included "dancing cardboard diamonds," which told the tale of "gems of injustice."

Protestors also handed passing pedestrians gift bags containing soil from Palestine and a thank-you note that stated: "Dear valued customer, with every purchase you make from LEVIEV New York, you help Lev Leviev to seize a handful of Palestinian land in order to build more illegal Israeli settlements."

According to the group, Leviev is involved in the construction of five illegal settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank.

In addition, the group claims that Leviev and New York residential real estate developer Shaya Boymelgreen are pushing lower- and middle-income residents out of New York. The group alleges that construction problems plague these developments, and that the projects utilize underpaid, non-union workers in hazardous conditions.
And from the company?
In a statement obtained on Wednesday by National Jeweler, Leviev and the LLG Companies called the protests "politically motivated."
You're zionists funding war crimes, of course the protests are politically motivated you schmocks! But there's more:
"Those who have personally attacked the group or its founder are not aware of the extensive humanitarian work of the group, including building schools, orphanages and fostering economic development in communities around the world. The LLG Companies are committed to—and have been recognized for—philanthropic work in communities in which they operate."
Who else would describe the funding, indeed the committing, of war crimes, philanthropy?

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