Fashion Week soiree hosted by Israeli settlement builder draws protest

Fashion Week soiree hosted by Israeli settlement builder draws protest
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Published September 22nd, 2010 - 14:38 GMT

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More than a dozen human rights activists surprised an end of New York Fashion Week shindig hosted at the Madison Avenue diamond boutique of the notorious Israeli settlement builder Lev Leviev. Acting on an anonymous tip, activists from Adalah-NY gathered outside Leviev's store shortly after highly-coutured guests began arriving. Oscar de la Renta was rumored to be among fashion bigs attending. Well-coiffed fashionistas clutching champagne flutes nervously drew away from the second-floor window of the boutique upon noting the full-throated chanting of the activists. Two glitterati who arrived in a limo returned to their vehicle, joining others, and left after seeing the protesters, who bore signs decrying Leviev's construction of Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. One limo driver, after discharging his passengers who were escorted inside by Leviev's security men, gave the protestors an enthusiastic thumbs up before driving away.

Heard among the protesters' chants: "Fashionistas and socialites, Leviev denies human rights."

"It's a shame that high-profile designers would want to associate with a known human-rights abuser," said Adalah-NY's Alexis Stern. "Don't their PR people know how to search his name on the web?"

Lev Leviev and his associated companies, including Africa-Israel, have been the target of a growing international boycott due to their settlement activities. The Norwegian government announced on August 23rd that it was divesting from Africa Israel Investments and its subsidiary Danya Cebus. UNICEF and Oxfam renounced donations from Leviev, the British government refused to rent space for their new Tel Aviv embassy from Africa-Israel, celebrities have distanced themselves from him, and a Danish Bank has blacklisted Africa-Israel.

From 2000 -2008, Danya Cebus, the construction subsidiary of Leviev's Africa-Israel company, built homes in the settlements of Har Homa, Maale Adumim, Adam, and Mattityahu East on the land of the West Bank village of Bil'in. Africa-Israel owns a percentage of the Alon Group, which has facilities and supermarkets in a number of Israeli settlements through the company Blue Square. Another Leviev-owned company, Leader Management and Development, owns and operates the expanding settlement of Zufim, built on the land of the West Bank village of Jayyous. Leviev has also been a donor to the Israeli groups the Land Redemption Fund and the Bukharan Community Trust, both of which have been involved in expanding settlements in the West Bank. 

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