It looks like there will be some additional drama at tonight's splashy "Champagne & Diamonds" party for the faded social networking site ASmallWorld and Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev. (ASmallWorld informed us this morning, by the way, that Harvey Weinstein will not be attending personally.) A protest is planned by a group that objects to Leviev's record on human rights. Says a rep for Adalah-NY: "It's truly a small world for Leviev, as his companies are simultaneously involved in destroying communities in Palestine, Africa, and New York City. We will protest this outrageous celebration of worldwide human rights abuses and economic catastrophe by Leviev and New York's elites, because it ridicules the losses of homes, jobs and security being inflicted on working people worldwide." Sounds like Annie Churchill, Jennifer Creel, Amanda Hearst, and Annelise Peterson are in for a treat! The full press release is after the jump.
Tonight: Rights advocates to protest "Diamonds & Champagne" cocktail at Leviev's store
Israeli settlement-builder and NY elite disregard rights abuses and economic collapse
WHAT: Protest of "Diamonds & Champagne" party for "A Small World"
WHEN: Thursday December 4th, 6:30 – 8:00 PM
WHERE: Leviev, 700 Madison Ave, between 62nd and 63rd St/.
WHO: A coalition of New York-based human rights advocates, Adalah-NY
New York, NY, December 4, 2008 – New York human rights advocates will protest this evening at the Madison Avenue jewelry store of Israeli billionaire and settlement mogul Lev Leviev where "A Small World" will hold a cocktail party to "Buck the Recession with Champagne & Diamonds." "A Small World" describes itself as "an exclusive network of like-minded individuals with an appreciation for quality in life." Leviev has been renounced by Oxfam and UNICEF for his companies' construction of Israeli settlements in violation of international law and right abuses in the diamond industry in Angola and Namibia.
Alexis Stern of Adalah-NY commented, "It's truly a small world for Leviev, as his companies are simultaneously involved in destroying communities in Palestine, Africa, and New York City. We will protest this outrageous celebration of worldwide human rights abuses and economic catastrophe by Leviev and New York's elites, because it ridicules the losses of homes, jobs and security being inflicted on working people worldwide."
Leviev's companies Africa Israel and Leader have recently built Jewish-only homes on Palestinian land in the Israeli settlements of Zufim, Mattityahu East, Har Homa and Maale Adumim, impoverishing Palestinian communities and violating international law. Leviev also funds the settlement organization the Land Redemption Fund. In Angola, Leviev's close partnership in the diamond trade with the Dos Santos regime supports a repressive and corrupt government. New York Magazine reported in 2007 that, "A security company contracted by Leviev was accused this year by a local human-rights monitor of participating in practices of 'humiliation, whipping, torture, sexual abuse, and, in some cases, assassinations.'" According to the non-governmental watchdog Partnership Africa Canada, Angola and Leviev have failed to fully complying with the Kimberley process, which aims to eliminate conflict diamonds. And in Namibia, where Leviev operates a diamond polishing factory, Leviev recently fired around 200 striking workers, some of whom were already struggling to survive on less than $2/day. In New York, Leviev's real estate ventures, many in partnership with Shaya Boymlegreen, have been associated with the displacement of lower- and middle-income families, prompting community and labor groups to organize against them.
In addition to Oxfam and UNICEF, Leviev was also dropped from the sponsor list of the star-studded Carousel of Hope Ball this past October, and the name and photo of Oxfam Ambassador Kristin Davis have been removed from Leviev's web-page. The United Kingdom is under pressure not to rent space for their Tel Aviv embassy from Leviev, and the government of Dubai pledged not to allow Leviev to open stores in the emirate. Companies owned by Leviev's partner in settlement construction, Shaya Boymelgreen, are now being sued for war crimes in Canada.
Adalah-NY has also announced that it will hold a Saturday December 20th protest at Leviev's Madison Avenue store. Participants will sing parody holiday carols focusing on Leviev's rights abuses.