Leviev: Diamonds And Apartheid by Fran Korotzer

An activist protests outside Leviev’s storefront
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

“How fancy, how pretty. Leviev out of New York City.”

“You’re glitz, you’re glam. You’re stealing Palestinian land!”

“You sparkle, you shine. Your settlements are still a crime!”

“All your diamonds cannot hide, your support for apartheid!”

NEW YORK — On February 13, the big shopping day before Valentine’s Day, 50 human rights activists organized by Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, arrived at the Leviev store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. They were carrying leaflets, a sound system, big thermuses of hot chocolate and apple cider (the weather was cloudy and very cold) and signs, especially red and pink valentines, asking shoppers not to buy anything from the Leviev jewelry store. They explained that Leviev was financing the building of Jews-only settlements / colonies on Palestinian land on the West Bank.

Debating Diamonds — And Apartheid
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

The demonstrators created a real event. There was constant chanting, there was a dance performance by the Single BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Lev’ies who danced to the music of a Beyonce song, “Single Ladies”, but with new lyrics, including this chorus:

It’s apartheid so you shouldn’t put a ring on it.
It’s apartheid so you shouldn’t put a ring on it.
Occupation is a crime so put an end to it.
It’s apartheid so you shouldn’t put a ring on it.

There was also plenty of group singing. Song sheets were distributed so everyone had new words to old tunes. The Beatles “Can’t Buy Me Love” became:

Don’t buy me Lev, Lev
Don’t buy me Lev
Don’t buy a diamond ring from Lev,
and now I’ll tell you why.
Settlements on stolen land,
He’s a really nasty guy.
Lev’s a crook so save your money,
Baby don’t buy me Lev.

Or, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” became
“Lev’s Diamonds are a Crime’s Best Friend”:

Your grab at our land is destroying a people.
Lev’s diamonds are a crime’s best friend.
You give theft a hand
with your money – how evil.
Knocking buildings flat
Bilin, Jayous, that’s where it’s at.
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.

Between the chanting, songs, and dancing there were dramatic skits, parodies of diamond ads seen on TV, showing Leviev to be a villain.

All of this caught the attention of people passing by on the crowded street. There was one very hostile reaction and a few icy looks, but most of the people expressed interest and demonstrators had an opportunity to talk to people about what Leviev is doing, and show that he is part of the ethnic cleansing, genocidal policies being carried out by the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.

Adalah-NY is part of the Boycott, Divestment, and sanctions campaign against Israeli Apartheid. According to their website their goal is to pressure Leviev:

…to stop building illegal settlements in Occupied Palestine…. More immediately, the campaign will educate New Yorkers about Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people, help build a larger BDS campaign in New York City, and develop links with and support activists working against similar abusive practices in New York City.

Many around the world recognize the extent of Israel’s breach of international law. The real challenge now is to do something about it. The time has come to apply effective international pressure against Israel similar in scope and comprehensiveness to that successfully used to end apartheid in South Africa. Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions are non-violent economic, political, and cultural measures adopted by individuals, groups, or governments intended to protest and place pressure on governments to end objectionable policies. All Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory violate international law according to a broad international consensus which includes the UN, the International Court of Justice, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that ‘The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer part of it’s own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’

During the hours that the activists were in front of the Leviev store three people entered the store with two leaving after only a minute.

Before leaving one of the participants bid the store a poetic hip-hop ‘so long’ and promised that everyone would be back. And there was a final chant, “Lev Leviev you will see, Palestine will be free.”

View Photos From The Event…

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