February 10, 2008

Transatlantic protests against Leviev

I arrived too late for the picket of Leviev's jewellery shop in Old Bond Street yesterday. I wasn't even sure where the store was but I as I walked down the street I noticed groups of shoppers, some with chauffeurs, kind of gawking at number 31, Leviev. The pickets has dispersed maybe an hour before I had arrived but their presence was still being felt. There was a security guard on every door for about twenty shops around as far as I could tell. Of course the beefy jittery looking men on each door could have been sales assistants and maybe it's company policy in about twenty shops to have an assistant with his hand on the door ready to open it should a shopper arrive.

The picket was organised on the quiet and it seems that it was indeed not expected by the shops' personnel who looked rather bewildered.

There was also another picket of the Leviev store in Manhattan yesterday.

Here's Indymedia NYC on both events:
New York, NY, Feb 9, 2008 – Forty-five protesters called on Madison Avenue shoppers to boycott the jewelry store of Israeli billionaire and settlement magnate Lev Leviev this Saturday, the last major shopping day before Valentine’s Day. The protest was the seventh organized by the New York activist group Adalah-NY since Leviev’s store opened in mid-November.

Londoners also joined the campaign to boycott Leviev, with 25 human rights activists picketing outside Leviev’s Old Bond St. store Saturday. The protesters in New York and London oppose Leviev’s construction of Israeli settlements on Occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law, as well as his abuse of marginalized communities in Angola, where he mines diamonds, and in New York City where he develops real estate.

Facing the shop window at LEVIEV New York which was emblazoned with the words “Celebrate Love with Leviev” in pink, the New York protesters carried red, heart-shaped signs saying “Settlements are Heartless,” “Have a Heart Leviev” and “Won’t You be Just.” Protesters sang a parody, vaudeville-style version of “Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend,” including the lyrics:

“Lev grows bold,
With billions sold,
And Palestine starves while you spend,”

“No matter what they say,
Apartheid's the endgame,
Lev's diamonds are a crime's best friend.”

In an assertion of Palestinian identity in defiance of Israeli efforts to destroy their culture, the Palestine Liberation Dance Troupe performed the Palestinian folkdance dabkeh, including fellahi wedding dances. They danced to traditional Palestinian wedding songs celebrating love including, “Ya Zareef Atool” and “Dalouna.”

The protesters performed a racy parody of “The Dating Game” entitled “The One Date Solution, for those who want to settle”, featuring a contestant named Lev who was wooed by three other contestants - a pro-Israel legal scholar and author of the book “The Case for Ethnic Cleansing” named Alana; the daughter of a repressive African dictator with extensive diamond holdings; and Lev’s spurned ex-Brooklyn real estate partner. In response to a criticism of his human rights record from one contestant, Lev explained, “Lev means never having to say you’re sorry.” But “The Dating Game” ended before Lev was able to choose a date because the audience voted Lev out of New York City and Palestine. Also displayed at the protest was a six foot JDate profile for Leviev which noted, among other things, “In my free time, I enjoy: Exploitation, Profiteering, Union-Busting, and Macrame.”

An Adalah-NY representative tried to deliver a three foot by two foot heart-shaped valentine to the store for Leviev. The valentine featured photos from Palestinian villages like Bil’in and Jayyous where Leviev’s companies are building Israeli settlements, and hand-written messages from protesters like “Stop the Land Theft”, “Jews say no to apartheid,” and “Where’s the love Lev?” However, store staff refused to accept the valentine, saying that Adalah-NY should mail it to Leviev.

In London, 25 demonstrators from Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, together with support from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the Wall and Jews for Justice for Palestinians held a Valentine's Day protest outside the jewelry shop Leviev in normally sedate Old Bond Street London, holding placards, and leafleting to curious passers by. The posters highlighted Leviev's settlement construction in Bil'in and Jayyous, and included the violence of uprooting olive trees and armed soldiers’ assaults against Palestinian farmers.

By Adalah-NY justiceme@gmail.com http://www.mideastjustice.org
http://www.mideastjustice.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=157&Itemid=73 NY protest video: www.mideastjustice.org London protest video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrEb4DxBzIk
By Adalah-NY justiceme@gmail.com http://www.mideastjustice.org/
There has been so much happening over Leviev in the last few weeks I actually allowed a but of Leviev fatigue to set in and I missed some of the coverage of the pickets. These are growing and this hands across the Atlantic thing is an exciting development. There has been a lot of media coverage and now the protests have spread to London, perhaps the coverage will spread to the UK financial pages.

If anyone has pics of the London demo, I'd appreciate it if they send me some. Thanks!

UPDATE:



Thanks for that. I should point out that the picket was organised quietly which explains the small number of pickets. I expect this to grow and grow until the the pickets on Leviv in Old Bond Street meet the Gaza pickets on Downing Street, "home" of the PM.

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