Thursday, September 03, 2009

It couldn't happen to a nicer company

NICE to be able to relay a bit of good news for a change, and it could not happen to a nicer company..
For some time now opponents of Zionist colonisation in Occupied Palestine have been particularly targeting the business of a wealthy diamond trader who expanded into the property game. This news item which friends have forwarded me, from the Alternative Information Centre in Jerusalem, suggests that targeting works.

Did Leviev's Empire Succumb to Boycott?
Dhir Hever, Alternative Information Center (AIC)

On 31 August 2009, Lev Leviev, the sixth richest Israeli according to Forbes
Magazine, convened a press conference and announced that his company Africa
Israel will be unable to meet its financial obligations and repay its debts
on time. Leviev's debt is estimated at nearly Euro 1.4 billion. While this
tycoon said in August 2008 that "I will meet all of my obligations, to the
last penny," he admitted in the latest press conference, one year later,
that he made serious investment mistakes.

Though Leviev originally made his fortune in the diamond industry, Africa
Israel is the flagship of his business empire. The company is well known for
its widespread real-estate investments, but also for the fact that it builds
in Israeli settlements, or colonies, in the West Bank. The company's
construction projects in areas such as Ma'ale Adumim, Har Homa, Adam and
Modi'in Ilit contribute to the ongoing efforts to dispossess Palestinians
from their lands, to expand illegal Jewish settlements, entrench Israeli
control, and place obstacles to ending the occupation and achieving peace
between the Palestinians and Israel.

As a result of these construction projects, Leviev's business empire came
under a massive and well-coordinated worldwide boycott campaign. Although it
is difficult to organize a consumer boycott on a real-estate company,
because that would amount to convincing people not to live in certain areas,
supporters of the Palestinian cause for justice and freedom found creative
ways to apply pressure on Africa Israel.

As the crimes of Africa Israel became infamous throughout the world,
international pressure on the company began to mount. Demonstrations took
place in New York City, including in front of Leviev's store on Madison
Avenue. Leviev's diamonds were shunned in Dubai, and UNICEF refused a
donation from him, saying "We are aware of the controversy surrounding Mr.
Leviev because of his reported involvement in construction work in the
occupied Palestinian territory." The UK embassy in Tel Aviv decided not to
buy its office from Africa Israel while on 23 August 2009, it was revealed
that Blackrock Inc., a large British investment firm, decided to divest from
Africa Israel. Eight days later, Leviev convened the press conference in
which he announced his inability to repay his debts.

You can read the article in full at:

The AIC author says this will bring cheer to the "brave people" who have campaigned for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli policies. I expect it will. But good cheer and bravery apart, and whatever the moral justification for boycott, I would say what this good news shows is that rather than over-generalised boycott calls (or worse, in-crowd repetition of "BDS"), directed vaguely against "Zionism", what works is campaigning focussed on specific issues which everyone can understand - occupation, the annexation wall, house demolitions, the siege of Gaza - and targeting companies or inititutions which can be shown to be directly involved. If you can appeal to the ordinary person's sense of what's right and wrong, you can also make investors nervous.

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