February 14, 2008

Who said there's no such thing as bad publicity?

Well it wasn't Lev Leviev because he's not at all happy about the publicity he's been getting with his conflict diamonds and rubies. I don't suppose Yediot Ahranot coined the expression either. They have published this article about the protests against Leviev, but in the print edition, not on their website in Hebrew or in English. Thankfully, help is at hand with translations on the International Solidarity Movement website.

By Yaniv Halili, our correspondent in New York(Translation from Hebrew by Adalah-NY)

February 10, 2008

London and New York: Demonstrations Opposite Lev Leviev’s Jewelry Stores

“Lev Leviev’s diamonds are a crime’s best friends.” This was not the least of that which around 100 demonstrators chanted yesterday outside Lev Leviev’s diamond boutique on elite Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

The demonstration, which was organized by the American chapters of the organizations “Adalah” and “Justice in Palestine,” was designed to strike at the entrance of the Leviev boutique during an important time from a business point of view: Valentine’s Day. The demonstrators have been known to call out to customers, telling them not to buy jewelry for their wives on Valentine’s Day, which will take place on Thursday.

This is the first initiative of this type in New York. Until now, human rights organizations were satisfied with demonstrations against the government of Israel, opposite the Israeli consulate in that city and opposite the UN. Now, two of the groups are taking the protest a step further, in their readiness to cause financial damage to Leviev, the elite jewelry store owned by the Israeli businessman.

The strategy: maintaining a boisterous demonstration outside the boutique and distributing propaganda pamphlets with details chosen by the organizations.

“The crimes that Leviev has carried out are in every place in the world.” Says Issa Mikel, head of the New York chapter of Adalah. He said that the demonstration was not merely focused on “what Leviev has done in the territories.” “Customers of Leviev in New York need to know that he is involved in the construction of four different settlements in the territories including Maale Adumim and Har Homa. People need to know that he is also involved in activity with the corrupt government in Angola and that his company is violating building laws and union labor laws in New York.”

“We want his customers on Madison Avenue to know where Leviev gets his money from and why it is immoral to buy from him.”

Organizers of the demonstration have never worked together with partners across the sea: at the same time as the demonstration in New York yesterday, there was an identical demonstration in London, outside of the Leviev boutique on exclusive Bond Street. The demonstrators in the two countries held identical signs and worked together in order to intensify the boisterous protest.

In addition to the translation here there is also a little something on Democracy Now! which is always good news.

But this failure to publicise these demonstrations by withholding the news from English editions and the web is interesting. Clearly, Yediot Aharanot wants Israelis to know what is going on. The Hebrew language business publication of Ha'aretz, The Marker, also feels that the Israeli business community needs to be warned. And Maariv (another Israeli mainstream daily) is rattled too. But they don't want the morale of the demonstrators lifted and they certainly don't want more people joining them. Hence the reticence.

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