Diamond Mogul Receives Angry Valentine
JDate users scouring the Jewish dating Web site in anticipation of Valentine’s Day may have found a surprising match.
Lev Leviev, the controversial Israeli diamond mogul, had appeared to register a profile on the site, including such information as, “in my free time, I enjoy: Exploitation, Profiteering, Union-Busting, and Macrame.”
The JDate profile was one of several recent Valentine’s Day-themed acts of protest directed at Leviev, who in reality is not looking for love online but is a married father of nine and an active member of the Chabad-Lubavitch sect of Orthodox Judaism. His detractors oppose his use of diamond mines in Angola and what they say is his extensive involvement in housing construction for Jewish settlers on the West Bank.
“Because a great deal of jewelry shopping goes on during the weekend before Valentine’s Day, we thought it was appropriate to reach out to Valentine’s Day shoppers and encourage them to stay away from Leviev’s shop,” said Issa Mikel, a human rights activist who works with Adalah-NY, a coalition of organizations strongly critical of Israeli policy.
Officials at the coalition say that the group is not responsible for the creation of Leviev’s erstwhile JDate profile. But Adalah-NY activists, most of whom are Jewish or Palestinian-American, were carrying a print out of the profile at a protest last Saturday in front of LEVIEV, the mogul’s retail outlet in Manhattan.
A public relations firm that represents Leviev issued a press release stating that “those who personally attack the companies or its founder deliberately neglect their extensive humanitarian and philanthropic work, which includes building schools, orphanages, and fostering economic development in communities around the world.” The press release called the protests against Leviev “politically motivated.”
The protestors in New York attempted to deliver a giant “valentine” to the store, decorated with images of Palestinian towns they say Leviev is destroying, and staged a mock dating game that lampooned attorney Alan Dershowitz and New York developer Shaya Boymelgreen in addition to Leviev. Dershowitz earned the enmity of the group when he responded to a protest outside LEVIEV in December by entering the store and coming out with a bag of jewelry.
Dan Brooks, a counter-protester who passed out fliers alongside the Adalah-NY activists, said that the activists were not being fully candid about their political views.
“I’m not a pro-settlement guy,” he said. “But they are making the settlements out to be the driving force stopping a two-state solution. In code, they’re calling for the dissolution of Israel as a Jewish state.”