Good news on the divestment front. BlackRock, a U.S. investment manager, has sold its holdings in Lev Leviev’s Africa-Israel fund, which helps build colonies in the West Bank–following pressure from three Scandinavian banks that have investments with BlackRock. A friend writes:
One of the settlements Leviev has built in, Matityahu East (pictured), is on land belonging to the Palestinian village of Bi’lin. Which brings us back to Ethan Bronner’s piece in the New York Times on the nonviolent protests in Bi’lin against the occupation. That piece completely omitted a hugely important facet of the non-violent struggle, and one the NYT has never covered: Bi’lin’s 2-year campaign, along with international allies like Adalah-NY, against the builders of the settlement that is confiscating Bi’lin’s land, builders that include Leviev and Shaya Boymelgreen.
Note that the NYT’s op-ed page has run more than a dozen jewelry ads by now from Lev Leviev, and they’ve never mentioned anything about the campaign against him. Bronner quotes Emily Shaeffer, but doesn’t mention she went to Canada shepherding Bi’lin’s court case there against two real estate companies that are building in the settlement (articles on the case archived here). Nor does he mention that Israel started cracking down much more heavily on Bil’in following campaign leader Mohammed Khatib’s testifying in court in Montreal. No mention of BlackRock’s divestment from Africa-Israel, which is responsible for about 30% of the housing of Matityahu East, an outpost of the older settlement, Modi’in illit. Bronner mentions that former Norweigian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland was one of the "elders" visiting Bi’lin, but does not mention Bil’in’s effort to get the Norweigian state pension fund to divest from Africa-Israel.
In sum, Bronner was writing about Bil’in’s non-violent campaign, but left out a central part of that campaign, the village’s efforts & those of supporting orgs in Palestine, Israel, US, UK, Norway, UAE, to boycott the builders of the settlement. This is a major non-violent effort, & the NYT has never covered it, even though it’s been widely covered in the international press, maybe 100 articles. Remember when the UK decided not to rent their new Tel Aviv embassy from Leviev? That was all over the place on major wires, the BBC (March 5: Britain drops Israel embassy move). Maybe 15 stories, including JTA. But silence from the Times.
So Bronner writes about Bi’lin, and meanwhile his newspaper helps one of Matityahu East’s major builders make money by letting him place huge ads on its op-ed page. Do I smell a conflict?