Human rights groups target fashion icon over NYC exhibition funded by settlement tycoon Lev Leviev

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Daphne Henri
Daphne Guinness with Bernard Henri-Levy
(Photo: Rex Features/Sipa Press)

Lev Leviev, Israeli settlement mogul and blood diamond trader, is still a target.  This month he sponsored an exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology curated by Daphne Guinness, and human rights organizations are calling for the fashion icon and heiress to distance herself from Leviev. Adalah-NY, CodePink, Jewish Voice for Peace, and human rights organizations from the U.K. sent letters to Guinness and FIT on November 12th, calling for Guinness and FIT to “sever their ties” with Lev.

“By associating with Leviev due to his companies’ construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in violation of international law, and their unethical business practices in the diamond industry in Angola and Namibia,” Adalah-NY wrote Guinness and FIT’s names will be” tarnished.” The designer and design school have responded to communication with the human rights’ groups, although they have yet to cancel their contracts with Leviev, which would follow the lead of Oxfam, CARE, UNICEF, and the governments of Norway and the UK , all of whom have canceled and publically distanced themselves from Leviev.

Leviev is the target of an international boycott campaign, first started by Adalah-NY in 2006, as a response to the diamond dealer’s settlement construction. While Africa-Israel is out of the settlement business as of 2010, another Leviev company, Leader Management and Development continues to expropriate Palestinian land:

“Leader and the Israeli government are seizing the village’s farmland and water resources to build the settlement, which is secured by Israel’s West Bank wall, with devastating impacts on the once prosperous farming village. In November 2010, a separate Leviev company, Africa Israel, announced that it had no plans to build further settlements, presumably because organizations, governments, investment firms and stars were distancing themselves from Leviev. All Israeli settlements violate international law.”

Leviev is also under criticism by Adalah-NY, for his procurement of blood diamonds, retailed at his New York City store front:

“Leviev’s companies have a history of involvement in human rights abuses in the diamond industry in Angola. Leviev works in close partnership with that country’s repressive and corrupt government. The Angolan government also fails to respect the Kimberley Process which was put in place to stop the worldwide trade in conflict diamonds. In the diamond industry in Namibia, Leviev’s company fired around 200 striking, low-wage factory workers in 2008, and this year his employees in Namibia have been accused of trading in illicit diamonds.”

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