Support Striking Namibian Workers at Lev Leviev Diamonds!
Protest Firing Threats, Abusive Managers

Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East,
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU),
Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign National Committee (BNC)
July 5, 2008

Management at Lev Leviev Diamond Polishing Company (LLD) in Windhoek, Namibia is threatening to fire 153 diamond polishers who have been on strike since June 19th protesting abusive managers as well as overdue job appraisals, promotions, wages and outstanding overtime pay. The company, owned by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, whose companies are already a target of global condemnation for building Israeli settlements in the West Bank in violation of international law, has suspended the 153 strikers and is threatening to begin disciplinary hearings to fire them, claiming the strike is illegal.

Growing global solidarity reaches from Palestine to Southern Africa and the US targeting Lev Leviev’s human rights abuses and war crimes.

Adalah-NY, COSATU and the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) urge unions, supporters of human rights, and all other social justice groups to send messages of protest to LLD management, demanding that the strikers not be fired and that their demands be met (addresses and phone numbers to send messages to are below).


In Namibia, the workers started their labor action on June 19, setting up a round-the-clock protest camp a few hundred yards from the factory gates. Among the workers’ demands is the removal of LLD Namibia’s general manager Mike Nesongano. Workers have documented a range of hostile actions by Nesongano, including use of abusive language, disregard of labor law, threatening workers, unfair dismissals, unequal treatment and having a demoralizing attitude towards his workforce. The employees also accuse Nesongano of poor administration and favoring European administrators brought in by Leviev. They also point to intimidation by the company’s lawyer at meetings between workers and management.

Diamond polishers at LLD earn Namibian $450 (US$56) a month, after deductions. This corresponds to less than two U.S. dollars a day, the figure most commonly used by international agencies to define the global poverty line.

LLD has a history of exploiting its workers. In 2006 the company, which only offered its workers temporary status, tried to force workers to sign contracts stating that they would not be paid until they reached certain production quotas. Only the workers’ struggle forced them to nullify the contracts.

LLD's Managing Director, K. Kapwanga, refuses engagement with the workers on fair terms. He has publicly threatened that "[t]he relevant employees will be issued with notices to appear before a disciplinary hearing committee, upon which if found guilty they may face severe penalties and possible dismissal." Enraged by the threat, workers have announced that they will boycott the disciplinary hearings, and have threatened to disrupt the operations of the company should the company fail to heed their demands.


Lev Leviev got his start by supporting Apartheid in South Africa, and reaping profits from that regime's diamond industry. Today his support is directed at Israeli apartheid where the profits are no less handsome. His construction companies build settlements that steal water and key agricultural areas from Palestinians, carve up Palestinian areas of the West Bank into isolated enclaves, and cut off Jerusalem from the West Bank. His most recent settlement construction projects - Mattityahu East in Modi’in Illit, Zufim, Maale Adumim and Har Homa - are central to Israel’s efforts to seize control of and annex strategic areas of the West Bank.

The people of Jayyous, the Palestinian town on whose lands the Zufim settlement is built, have addressed the world calling for a boycott of Lev Leviev because his settlement activities on the properties annexed by Israel's Apartheid Wall destroy their land and livelihoods. As one Jayyous farmer has put it: “85% of our people were farmers working in their fields or tending cattle. Today only 45 out of 3800 people can reach their lands and provide for the livelihoods of their families. Out of the 8,050 people from Jayyous, 3,250 already live abroad. Those of us who have stayed must struggle daily to defend our lands and rights.”

Adalah-NY, the Coalition for Justice in the Middle East (, in cooperation with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign National Committee (BNC), a wide coalition of the largest Palestinian mass organizations, trade unions, networks and organizations, has been campaigning against Lev Leviev’s companies for their building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank in violation of international law, as well as his abuses of workers and communities from Angola to New York City. The BNC is the body set up by Palestinian civil society to coordinate the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign launched in July 2005 with the initial endorsement of over 170 Palestinian organizations. One fruit of the campaign initiated by Adalah-NY has been UNICEF’s announcement on June 20th it would no longer accept donations from Leviev, which followed a similar decision by Oxfam International.


In Angola, 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.’”

New York:

At the Apthorp building in Manhattan, 50% owned by Leviev's company Africa-Israel, 88 tenants protected by rent-regulation laws are threatened with losing their apartments as Leviev and the smaller shareholders convert it into an expensive condominium building.

Adalah-NY, the BNC and COSATU urge unions, supporters of human rights for Palestinians, and all other social justice groups to send messages of protest to LLD management, demanding that the strikers not be fired and that their demands be met (addresses and phone numbers to send messages to are below).

Send messages of support for the strikers at LLD Polishing Company in Namibia to:
K. Kapwanga, Managing Director, LLD
Tel.: +26 461 386 150
Fax: +26461 249 253
Cell: +264811 247 249

Send copies of your messages to:
Mineworkers Union of Namibia at
and to Adalah-NY at:
For more information, contact Adalah-NY at:


1. Statement of the Mine Workers Union of Namibia:

Secretary General Joseph Hengari of the strikers’ union, the Mine Workers Union of Namibia (MUN), told the press: "We propose that before discussing the appraisals, promotions and basic salary issues, the company respond to all allegations levelled against Nesongano."

Mathew Mtembi, Chairman of the NUM local at the plant, told the New Era: “’We are here because these people did not solve our problems. We want feedback on our demands,’ referring to the 16-point agenda they gave to management a day before the commencement of the strike.” Mtembi added that if the suspensions are withdrawn they will return to work, “but will not go anywhere near their duty stations if the company does not solve their problems, amongst others better labour conditions, allowances and better salaries.”

2. Statement by COSATU on July 4 says in its initial paragraph

“The Congress of South African Trade Unions pledges its support for the 153 diamond polishers employed by the Lev Leviev Diamond (LLD) Polishing Company in Windhoek, Namibia, who have been on strike since June 19th to protest abusive managers as well as job appraisals and promotions, wages and outstanding overtime.” (The Congress of South African Trade Unions was founded in 1985. Since then COSATU has been in the forefront of the struggle for democracy and workers' rights. Today it represents over two million workers.)

3. The BNC:

The BNC is a wide coalition of the largest Palestinian mass organizations, trade unions, networks and organizations, including:

  • Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine
  • General Union of Palestinian Workers
  • Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions
  • Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)
  • Federation of Independent Trade Unions
  • Union of Arab Community Based Associations (ITTIJAH)
  • Palestine Right of Return Coalition
  • Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Initiative
  • General Union of Palestinian Women
  • Union of Palestinian Farmers
  • Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW)
  • Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)
  • National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba
  • Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCDPRJ)


July 2, 2008

Open letter to Susan Sarandon:
Follow UNICEF’s lead and publicly cut ties with Lev Leviev

From: Adalah-NY; the West Bank villages of Bil’in and Jayyous; Jewish Voice for Peace; Defence for Children International-Palestine Section; The Steering Committee of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee; and The Coalition of Women for Peace, Israel

As seven diverse groups committed to justice, human rights and peace, and representing hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of people in the US, Palestine and Israel, we call on you as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, to follow the lead of UNICEF which told Reuters on June 20th that it was cutting all ties with Israeli billionaire and diamond mogul Lev Leviev. UNICEF took this action due to Leviev’s companies’ construction of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian Territory. In a June 19 letter to Adalah-NY, Chris De Bono, senior communications advisor to UNICEF’s Executive Director, explained: "Yesterday we confirmed that UNICEF has concluded that it will not consider partnerships - direct or indirect - with Mr. Lev Leviev or any of his corporate entities, and will not accept financial or other support that we know is from him or his corporate entities. The concerned parts of the UNICEF family, including our national committees, have been advised of this."

Like UNICEF, which did not know until we informed them, we understand that when you attended the November 13, 2007 gala opening of Leviev’s Madison Avenue jewelry store, as Adalah-NY protested outside, you were unaware of Leviev’s record of human rights abuses in Palestine, Angola and beyond. However, as a popular and respected human rights advocate and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, not publicly severing ties with Leviev has sent and will continue to send a message to the world that you support Leviev's highly unethical business activities which result in grave human rights abuses in Palestine.

On December 7, 2007 your assistant Mark Edlitz informed Adalah-NY that you were exploring these issues. UNICEF’s public rebuke of Leviev, which follows Oxfam International’s similar announcement on January 11, 2008, now provides an appropriate opportunity for you, as a member of the UNICEF family, to set the record straight and once again stand courageously for human rights.


Ann M. Veneman,
Executive Director of UNICEF

Dear Madam,

On behalf of Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, I would like to express our full support for your decision not to accept any further donations from Mr. Lev Levayev.

The Africa-Israel Buliding Coproration, owned by Mr. Levayev, is deeply involved in construction at the West Bank settlement of Modín Illit/Mattityahu East, erected on lands of Bilín and several other Palestinian villages which were either confiscated outright, ¨purchased¨ in highly shady land deals, and/or cut off from their owners by the so- called "Separation Fence".

For the Africa-Israeli Corporation - and hence, its owner, Levayev - this was a highly lucrative real estate deal, in which it acquired land for next to nothing and sold to settlers the appartments built on this land for hundreds of millions of dollars. For the Palestinian villagers involved, this meant the loss of the sole means of livelihood to hundreds of families, many of them with five children and more, and of course a very severe reduction in the care which these families could provide to their children and the future possibilities open to these children.

Hence, to accept the donations of Levayev, derived at least in part from the profits of the Africa-Israeli Corporation, would have meant to be in effect complicit in robbing one group of children in one country and using the proceeds for the benefit of other children in other countries - a manifestly immoral act which UNICEF was bound to avoid by the most basic of moral imperatives. I am glad that UNICEF did indeed take that decision.

Adam Keller
Spokesperson, Gush Shalom (The Israeli Peace Bloc)


April 10, 2008

Ms. Ann Veneman
Executive Director

Dear Ms. Veneman,

After conducting more than three years of nonviolent protests against the construction of Israel’s wall and the Israeli settlement of Mattityahu East on our village’s land, after enduring countless beatings from Israeli soldiers, teargas, bullets, invasions and arrests, we cannot accept UNICEF’s failure to reject support from Lev Leviev. Leviev is the owner of one of the companies that has built Mattityahu East. While we were dismayed to learn that Lev Leviev sponsored fundraising activities for UNICEF in France in 2007-2008, we were more dismayed to learn that UNICEF did not immediately renounce Leviev after this information was brought to UNICEF’s attention.

Israeli settlements like Mattityahu East violate international law and countless UN resolutions, all of which serve as the foundation for UNICEF’s mandate. Furthermore, during the course of more than 200 demonstrations to prevent the seizure of 50% of our land for the illegal construction of Mattityahu East, the Israeli military has injured around 1,000 civilian protesters and arrested 50. Around 300 of those injured and 13 of those jailed were children from Bil’in.

We are connected to this land. Our mothers took us to harvest olives before we could speak. We remember playing under the olive trees which have since been uprooted by the Israeli settlers who have moved here. There is now a huge and growing Israeli settlement bloc called Modi’in Illit, which includes the settlement of Mattityahu East, where we played as children. It is hard for us to accept the idea that our children cannot play on the land where we played in our childhood.

In Bil'in we have chosen to engage in a long nonviolent campaign of creative protests with the support of Israeli and international activists to prevent the seizure of our land. We know the Israeli army can choose to deal with us in two ways. Should the army choose violence, everyone sees what we are up against. And should the army refrain from violence, we achieve our aim of stopping their bulldozers. But even if the soldiers put down their weapons, which so far they haven’t done, that would not make us equals. We would always be stronger, because we have the power of justice on our side.

Among those who have suffered from the Israeli military’s use of violence during our protests are children from Bil’in like Abdullah Ahmad Issa Yassin. Abdullah Yassin was fourteen when he was arrested in October 2005 and imprisoned for two months. He was taken away by Israeli forces that stormed his house in the middle of the night, traumatizing Abdullah and his siblings. He was charged with taking part in popular demonstrations against the wall. Abdullah had been saving his money to buy toys and new clothes for the upcoming Eid holiday. Instead he spent the Eid in jail. Abdullah is now 17 years old, and he has been injured ten times by rubber-coated steel bullets fired by Israeli soldiers during various protests.

Bilal Rabah Ahmad Abu-Rahmah was 14 years-old when he was arrested and imprisoned for four months. Bilal was a simple child who liked to play with younger children. He was playing ball in the street in 2006, when an Israeli patrol passed by, scaring away Bilal's friends. Bilal alone stayed put frozen with fear and was arrested. Bilal was psychologically traumatized by his arrest and imprisonment, and he now requires special help from his parents.

As a result of Bil’in’s persistent protests and in response to our legal petition, in September, 2007, Israel's Supreme Court ruled that Israel's wall must be rerouted to return half of our village’s land that was being seized for settlements. Six months after this partial legal victory, the Israeli army has failed to move the wall. Therefore, we have continued our nonviolent struggle to save the olive groves that our families have cultivated for centuries, and we have put our experience at the service of other communities struggling against the wall and settlements.

In Bil'in, we have chosen a strategy that shows unequivocally who is the victim and who is the victimizer. It is unconscionable that UNICEF, an organization created to support human rights and international law, would fail to clearly denounce companies like Leviev’s that, supported by violence, are trampling on UN resolutions, international law and children’s rights.

For the people of Bil’in, it is irrelevant whether Leviev donated to UNICEF directly or indirectly. We eagerly await UNICEF’s decision to renounce all connections with Leviev, a man whose company has stolen our land, and is destroying our children’s future.


The Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements – Bil’in Village

cc: Bernt Aasen UNICEF Chief of Staff
UNICEF Jerusalem Office
UNICEF Middle East Regional Office
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Louise Arbour, High Commissioner for Human Rights



April 10, 2008

Ms. Ann Veneman
Executive Director

Dear Ms. Veneman,

The people of Jayyous, a village in the West Bank’s Qalqilya district, were deeply saddened to learn that UNICEF has been accepting fundraising support from Israeli businessman Lev Leviev. Leviev is the co-owner of Leader, the Israeli company that is building the settlement of Zufim on our village’s land. Leviev’s companies are also building Israeli settlements on Bil’in’s land, and are building in the settlements of Har Homa and Maale Adumim around Jerusalem. Leviev is destroying the olive groves and farms that have sustained Jayyous for centuries, and is profiting from human rights abuses. However, we were even more profoundly disturbed that, after these facts were brought to UNICEF’s attention, UNICEF has failed to take immediate steps to reject all future support from Leviev.

Leader’s construction of Israeli settlement homes on Jayyous’ agricultural land directly violates international law and the very UN resolutions which UNICEF is committed to upholding. Leader is destroying our village, and the lives and the futures of Jayyous’ children. Jayyous was one of the most productive agricultural areas in the West Bank. Today, many farmers from our village can no longer reach their farmland due to Israel’s construction of a wall on our land, a wall intended to annex Jayyous’ land for the planned expansion of Zufim. With the land their families have worked for centuries seized for Israeli settlements, many parents can no longer afford to send their children to school. Many of our children see no hope or future in Jayyous.

In October, 1988, the Israeli military governor of our district, Qalqilya, declared nearly 500 acres of Jayyous' agricultural land "state land." The declaration granted us 45 days to prepare our landownership documents and maps in order to appeal that decision to an Israeli military court. 79 farmers from Jayyous appealed. In May, 1996, the Israeli court decided on our 1988 appeal. 18 farmers from Jayyous lost all their land, some lost part of their land, while others kept their land. In 1993, three years before the Israeli court decision which took that land away, Leader established a quarry on some of Jayyous' land that we were appealing to keep.

During this period it became clear to the people of Jayyous that Leader was our enemy. Leader used bulldozers to clear our land for houses for Israeli settlers, and TNT to detonate more than 16 acres for a quarry. They uprooted all the olive trees on that land. As a direct result of the quarry work, all the vegetables and fruit nearby were covered with dust. Leader also uprooted the olive trees on two other plots. Many olive trees died because sewage from Zufim ran for many years through neighboring plots. Other plots were annexed to Zufim.

Leader then announced that it would build 1500 new homes for “North Zufim” in a large area located 1.2 miles north of the existing Zufim settlement. In 2002 the Israel government began building its wall deep inside Jayyous, up to 3.5 miles from the border with Israel, in order to annex 75% of Jayyous' land (1700 acres) as well as six underground wells to Zufim. The land to be cut off and used for Zufim’s expansion had been used to grow fruits and vegetables which sustain our village's economy. According to the respected Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem's 2005 report "Under the Guise of Security,” "the primary consideration in determining the route of the barrier around Zufin was to leave areas planned for the settlement's expansion and for a nearby industrial zone on the 'Israeli' side of the barrier", thus increasing "the number of Palestinians who are separated from their farmland, infringing their right to freedom of movement, their right to work and gain a livelihood, and their right of property."

Despite more than 60 nonviolent protests organized by Jayyous' people, and supported by Israeli and international activists, the wall has been built on our land, destroying 130 acres of Jayyous' land, uprooting 4,000 trees and cutting off 75% of our land. 419 Jayyous residents have been denied permits to pass through the gate in the Wall to reach their farmland. More than 70% of Jayyous' farmers are now denied access to their land, which in many cases happens to be the very area where Leader plans to expand Zufim. Hundreds of Israeli activists helped us to harvest our olives this fall because so many people from Jayyous could not reach their land.

As a result, our once-prosperous farming village of 3,400 hundred souls, which once provided food for 60,000 Palestinians, is now impoverished and dependent on external food aid. 57% of Jayyous’ families now depend on food aid from international and Palestinian organizations. An even greater number, 70% of families, are in great need of food aid, and this number is constantly increasing.

Leviev's settlement and Israel’s wall have impoverished our village to such a degree that 103 out of a total of 195 students in grades 7-12 were compelled to drop out of school. Many parents explain that they find it difficult or impossible to cover school expenses like tuition, clothes, and books. Our school’s headmaster appealed to Jayyous' friends abroad, but the money raised was only sufficient to help 92 students. The rest had to leave school to look for work. Our students are no longer motivated to study hard, because their dreams of attending universities now seem impossible. In 2002, before Israel began construction on the wall, 180 high school graduates from Jayyous were enrolled in university studies. That number has now dropped to 50.

We understand that Leviev contributes to fundraising events in France benefitting UNICEF programs to educate girls in Senegal. We ask why UNICEF, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children worldwide, would accept Leviev’s support in educating Senegalese children while his companies are destroying the lives of Palestinian children in places like Jayyous?

In Jayyous, we are engaged in a struggle for justice, for our freedom – indeed, for our very lives. We fully expect that UNICEF will renounce all support from Lev Leviev, the owner of the company that is destroying our village and the dreams of our children.


The Land Defense Committee of Jayyous
The Municipality of Jayyous

cc: Bernt Aasen UNICEF Chief of Staff
UNICEF Jerusalem Office
UNICEF Middle East Regional Office
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Louise Arbour, High Commissioner for Human Rights


Adalah-NY Decries the Ugliness of Violence and Racism at "Salute to Israel Parade"

Members of Adalah-NY: The Coalition For Justice In the Middle East were shocked at the unprecedented levels of hatred and racism on display at the "Salute to Israel Parade" on Sunday, June 1st in Manhattan. Adalah-NY organized one of a number of contingents of protesters that converged on 5th Avenue between 58th and 59th streets.


We, high school students of English in the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Jayyous, declare our complete opposition to the Israeli businessman Mr. Lev Leviev who is destroying our olive groves that have sustained our village for centuries. Many of our families are not allowed permits by the Israeli occupying forces to work our own lands that Israel's Wall is stealing for Mr. Leviev so he may expand his settlement "Zufim" onto our village's farmlands.

We hear that the government of the United Arab Emirates has stopped Mr. Leviev from opening his diamond stores in Dubai Emirate. We ask the government and the people of Dubai to prevent the sale to customers in Dubai of "Leviev's rocks of apartheid," which will be used by Mr. Leviev to build more settlements on Jayyous' lands.

How do we describe to the world what our life is like in occupied Jayyous in Palestine? The sadness in the eyes of our neighbors, whose only farmlands have been confiscated to build a settlement financed by Mr. Lev Leviev; the exhaustion that results when every daily action requires an extraordinary effort and when despair fights for a place on our people's faces, as they carry their bags and babies through checkpoints, passing soldiers and tanks.

On rainy days the water swells around our feet while we are going to our schools in Jayyous and Qalqilia. On the other hand, Israeli soldiers stand in shelters and never seem to get wet under their helmets and uniforms. They pull us out of our cars and line us up facing the wall. They sometimes make us sit in the dirt or in the rain, or under the hot sun while they chat on their mobile phones, joke with their friends, eat, smoke, and insult us with their words and their actions.

How do we explain how it feels when the wind blows and fill our noses with dust, and with the smell of sewage and garbage? Everyday, we feel more insecure, as curfews prevent pregnant women from giving birth in hospitals, and stop ambulances in their tracks, forcing some families to live with the decaying corpses of their family members for days.

What has increased our feeling of insecurity as students is the growing number of school days missed, the invasion and closure of the schools by Israeli forces, the number of teachers who cannot get to work, and the number of Palestinian prisoners who are without adequate food, water, sanitation, trials and family visits. These provocative practices that we grew up with in Jayyous have created many psychological problems for us. We think often of our fellow students who cannot afford to go to universities, students made poor because their families can no longer work on their farms because those lands are now isolated behind the "separation wall" where Mr. Leviev's bulldozers destroy our grandfathers' trees.

We think about the flood of indignities at the checkpoints. All our dreams for the future have been negatively affected and it's becoming too challenging to fulfill them. As students we always dream of preparing for the future, but unfortunately many obstacles, such as curfews, Walls, closures, and unpredictable checkpoints are preventing their realization.

We hope for all students to live in peace, justice, freedom and love. Every Leviev diamond bought in Dubai pays for our oppression and dispossession. Give our proud village the chance to feed itself and grow again - boycott Mr. Lev Leviev, in Dubai and all over the world.


New York, NY, March 29, 2008 – Today’s Land Day protest at the Madison Avenue jewelry store of Israeli billionaire and settlement mogul Lev Leviev highlights the 60 year Israeli campaign to displace Palestinians from their land, and Palestinian defiance and resistance – from the Nakbah, or Catastrophe, in 1948, when around 800,000 Palestinians were driven from their villages by Israeli forces to become refugees; to the original Land Day protests in 1976; to present day settlement construction by Israeli settlement builders like Lev Leviev in Bil’in, Jayyous, Jabel Abu Ghneim and Maale Adumim.