Lev Leviev is not a man known for his moral conscience. He made his fortune exporting conflict diamonds from Africa through his holding company, Africa-Israel (A-I), and cozying up to dictators there. His home construction subsidiary made a reputation for building settlements. Who knows, perhaps he’s turning over a new leaf?
Yediot Achronot examined (Hebrew) the construction projects Africa-Israel has planned for Jerusalem. There are projects totaling 900 units and worth $600-million, and all are in West Jerusalem. Not a single unit in occupied territory. One wonders whether Leviev prefers keeping his reputation clean so that western pension funds won’t divest themselves, as they have from other Israeli companies like banks and the water company, Mekorot. The headline says:
The plans of Leviev’s conglomerate are motivated by political pressure and fear of boycott.
In the article, a senior A-I manager says the company’s current policy is not to build outside the Green Line and the reporter speculates on the reason in the headline above. But as of October 2013, the BDS movement took issue with A-I’s characterization, saying the firm was building in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo and had been for the past two years. It seems the company wanted to have it both ways: to reap profits from settlement construction while telling the world it’s clean.
It is possible that A-I has instituted a new policy that it will not initiate new projects over the Green Line. If so, that’s exceedingly welcome news for the BDS movement. Though this should be examined carefully to determine if it’s true. Adalah just released a statement calling for caution before accepting the article’s claim at face value as A-I has told the world before that it wasn’t building settlements, when it was.
The article portrays a multi-national conglomerate beset by political turmoil over its support for Israel’s Occupation and settlements. It implies that A-I has seen the handwriting on the wall of the international investment community and decided that to preserve its financial health it had best divest from projects that bring unwanted scrutiny and notoriety. If true, this indicates BDS works in a big way, despite the derision and delirium with which the movement is viewed by pro-Israel forces.
I’ve also displayed this Shlomo Cohen cartoon from Yisrael HaYom (Bibiton) showing Jerusalem’s light rail line, whose tracks are a zipper connecting the two separate unraveling cities of East and West Jerusalem. Note that the “zipper” is splitting just as the train arrives, after it’s been stoned by Palestinians. The cartoon caption: “Between cities and rocks the train flies” is a riff on an old Israeli children’s song whose original lyrics are: “Between mountains and rocks the train flies, and of all the boys I love you [best].”
Without realizing it (perhaps), even Bibiton admits that Jerusalem is NOT one united city as the (prime-) master declares, but two cities at war because one seeks to impose its will on the other.