Dubai begins to comply with calls to boycott settlement financier

30 April 2008

In a sudden reversal, just 16 days after Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev publicly announced plans to open two new jewelry stores in Dubai this year, a high-level Dubai government official said that Leviev had no trade license to open a store in the Emirate. The report in the 30 April edition of Dubai’s Gulf News followed a flurry of media coverage of the 18 April call by Palestinians and New York activists for Dubai to boycott Leviev’s businesses over his companies’ settlement construction in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Issa Ayoub, a spokesperson for Adalah-NY, an activist group leading a boycott campaign against Leviev, commented, “We’re gratified that, by refusing trade licenses for Leviev, Dubai has joined the growing movement to boycott Leviev’s companies due to their violations of international law and human rights abuses in Palestine and Angola. We repeat our call to the people of Dubai to stop entirely the sale of Leviev’s jewelry, even in local stores. Israeli businesses like Leviev’s need to be held accountable for their role oppressing the Palestinian people.”

A 30 April article, “Israeli has no trade license to open shop in Dubai,” by Abbas Al Luwati in Gulf News quoted Ali Ebrahim, Deputy Director General for Executive Affairs in Dubai saying, “We are aware of these reports and have not granted a trade license to any business of this name. If such an application does come to us we will deal with it accordingly.” According to the article, “Ebrahim said Israeli citizens were not allowed to operate in Dubai, adding that ‘precautionary measures’ are taken to ensure that they do not. He added that Israeli businesses would be prevented from operating in Dubai through non-Israeli partners.”

The article dwelt on Adalah-NY’s exposure of Leviev’s companies’ construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in violation of international law. Danya-Cebus, a subsidiary of Leviev’s company Africa-Israel, has recently built settlement homes in Mattityahu East on the land of the West Bank village of Bil’in, as well as in Har Homa on Jabal Abu Ghneim, and in Maale Adumim, two settlements which aim to isolate East Jerusalem from the West Bank, and ensure Israeli control of the city. Additionally, Leviev’s company Leader operates and develops the settlement of Zufim on the village of Jayyous’ land. Leviev has also been an important donor to the settler organization the Land Redemption Fund that has used deceit and strong-arm tactics to secure land for settlement expansion.

A widely reported 14 April press release from Leviev’s publicist had announced “the opening of two new LEVIEV stores in Dubai in 2008.” The release claimed that “One LEVIEV store will be a flagship boutique located in the most prestigious section of the Burj Dubai Mall … The LEVIEV Dubai flagship will be a full-fledged LEVIEV store.” The second store was described as “a LEVIEV mini-boutique in the lobby of the new and exclusive Atlantis Hotel resort on the world-famous Jumeirah Palm Island,” with “key attributes of the LEVIEV stores in London, New York and Moscow.” Leviev’s jewelry has been sold at Levant Jewelers in the al-Qasr Hotel since March 2008. Leviev claimed that the planned store openings were “the next step for the evolution of our brand as Dubai is another epicenter of what we are witnessing in the world today.”

Daniel Lang/Levitsky of Jews Against the Occupation-NYC noted, “We’ve found support from New York to Dubai for the call to boycott Leviev’s businesses as soon as people know that his companies are destroying Palestinian villages, and extracting tens of millions of dollars of diamonds in Angola while committing severe human rights violations there and leaving local communities in poverty. Leviev claimed on one of his websites that he supported the charity Oxfam; when we brought this to Oxfam’s attention they immediately denied any ties to Leviev and repudiated him due to his violations of international law. We believe others will do the same until Leviev’s companies cease their attacks on human rights in Palestine, Angola and elsewhere.”

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