New York, NY, May 8 – For the third year in a row, activists protested in front of Lev Leviev’s store on Madison Avenue the day before Mother’s Day to discourage shoppers from buying Lev diamonds. The activists carried signs, chanted, sang songs and danced to raise awareness about Leviev’s illegal settlement construction in the West Bank. Passerby were informed that as we are about to celebrate Mother’s Day here in the United States, thousands of Palestinian mothers in Bilin and Jayyous witness the devastation of their families as their lands are being confiscated to build settlements by Leviev’s companies Africa Israel and Leader.
According to reports from the West Bank, the communities in Bilin and Jayyous, who have been protesting for the past five years the settlement and the Apartheid Wall being built on their land, are witnessing increased repression. Members of the Bil’in Popular Committee are still being held on absurd charges or no charges at all, in an effort to contain the resistance in Bil’in, which has sparked similar efforts throughout the West Bank and even Gaza. Adeeb Abu Rahmeh has been in detention since August 2nd, 2009 under the vague charges of “incitement,” and Abdallah Abu Rahmeh has been held since a nighttime raid of the village in December, 2009. Over 40 Bil’in residents have been arrested since 2009. Recent reports indicate that there is additional construction in the settlement of Zufim to the south and east encroaching further on the land of Jayyous in violation of international law.
Ethan Heitner of Adalah-NY stated, “On this Mother’s Day we wanted to honor our mothers by asking people to join the growing global BDS movement to promote social justice. We are inspired by recent developments including, the Swedish Pension Fund decision to divest from the Israeli company Elbit systems because it operates the surveillance equipment for the Wall, and Gil Scott-Heron’s decision to not play Israel.”
In what has become a feature of these demonstrations against Leviev, activists distributed a comic about Leviev as they chanted “We know you really love your mom, but think before you buy, Leviev’s stealing people’s land, he’s making mothers cry”. A group also performed a song and dance routine on a parody of the Jackson Five “ABC 123” with lyrics including:
Lev is an unwelcome guest
His settlements, are a crime
It is time, for freedom, for Palestine”
Leviev and his companies have been the target of a successful boycott campaign being carried out in a number of countries. In the past few years, UNICEF, Oxfam, The British Government and major Hollywood stars have all distanced themselves from Leviev. The investment firm BlackRock and the Swedish government sold off their shares of Leviev’s company Africa-Israel, though BlackRock denied they did so due to his settlement construction. In January of this year, the Danish Bank Danske added Africa-Israel to its list of companies that it would exclude from its investment due to its settlement construction activities, as did the Danish pension fund PKA. Reports indicate that the second largest Dutch pension fund PZVW divested from Africa-Israel. There is an on-going campaign asking the Norwegian government to sell its pension holdings in Africa-Israel over ethical concerns. The campaign against Leviev is part of the growing international movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions called on Palestinian civil society organizations in July 2005.