December 30, 2007

Protest against Leviev from Bi'lin to Madison Avenue to the belly of the beast

Woah, I've just dehumanised Israel. Hurrah! I've been accused of that so many times and now I've done it. The belly of the beast, what can it mean? It's not entirely fair given that Ha'aretz isn't the most beastly of zionist institutions but that's where the protest against Leviev have landed themselves. Yup, on the pages of Ha'aretz's Hebrew language business magazine, The Marker. Those nice people at Palestine Solidarity have kindly posted an English translation of the The Marker article.
The exclusive jewelry shop that Lev Leviev opened in New York became a focus for protests against the extensive construction of settlements in the territories that is being implemented by the construction company Danya Cebus, owned by the diamond and real estate magnate. The New York Post reported that currently, in addition to the protests outside Leviev’s jewelry shop on Madison Avenue in New York, calls are being made to famous people — celebrities, who are also supporters of human rights–to boycott the store, which opened last month.

An American Jewish human rights organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, posted an open letter on their website to the film actress Susan Sarandon, who attended the official opening of the store last month while a protest was taking place outside. In the letter, the Oscar winning actress was asked to “sever her connections” with the jewelry store. “As long time admirers of your work on social justice issues and as Jewish activists working to promote a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, we in Jewish Voice for Peace write to call your attention to the crimes of Lev Leviev and to urge you to announce publicly that you are severing all connections with him and his company” said the letter.

A representative on behalf of Sarandon responded that Sarandon’s attendance at one event in his shop does not constitute “ties.” He added that “she is not connected to any jewelry company.”

Sarandon is not the only celebrity who visited Leviev’s shop and was criticized for doing so by human rights activists. More than a month ago the famous attorney Alan Dershowitz, a prominent pro-Israel supporter in the United States, visited the store at a time when a demonstration outside had been organized. When Dershowitz left the store, in his hand a gift bag, demonstrators asserted that he was a supporter of apartheid.
This isn't just a matter-of-fact article. It's a warning to the Israeli business community that they are being watched. Israel's reputation as an apartheid state, certainly an illegitimate state, is spreading, anger is rising and protest is growing.

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