Join US Campaign member group Palestine Action Group- Corvallis for a conference call about the Boycott Israeli Blood Diamonds Campaign, this Sunday, December 18 with Sean Clinton from Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Contact Emmet Whittaker at email@example.com for call-in info.
Join the Palestine Action Group- Corvallis, Oregon for a conference call with Sean Clinton from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Sean is spearheading the Blood Diamonds campaign and is the author of the original report on the Israeli diamond industry and its relevance to BDS (reference 1). Sean will discuss the Israeli diamond industry and relevance to BDS, the campaign to date and opportunities for the future.
Israel is one of the world’s leading exporters of cut and polished diamonds accounting for $20B in exports in 2008. This industry presents significant opportunity to further BDS efforts and 2012 presents a significant opportunity for activists in the US to influence this campaign since the US takes the chair of the Kimberly Process in 2012.
Conference call: Sunday December 18th, 9am PST (12pm Eastern)
Contact Emmet Whittaker (firstname.lastname@example.org) for call in details.
Israel is one of the world’s leading diamond exporters and the diamond industry represents by far Israel’s largest export item in $’s, $20B in 2008 (reference 1). In a presentation to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Israeli economist Shir Hever estimates that up to $1B annually funnels from this industry to the Israeli military (reference2). This campaign argues that Israeli processed diamonds are de facto blood diamonds.
The diamond campaign essentially looks to raise awareness of the fact that diamonds crafted in Israel are funding gross human rights violations and should be regarded as blood diamonds. The campaign works to expose the double-standard in the diamond industry which regards diamonds that fund war crimes in Africa as blood diamonds but diamonds that fund war crimes in Gaza are labeled conflict free.
The campaign has many powerful levers that can be used to exert pressure on the diamond industry and thereby indirectly exert pressure on Israel and the Israeli economy which is highly dependent on the diamond industry as it accounts for about 30% of Israel’s exports (3) and 5% of Israeli GDP.
Jewelers claim that their diamonds are conflict free but when asked if any of their diamonds are cut and polished in Israel where “revenue from the diamond industry” funds the nuclear-armed Israeli military that stands accused of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity by the UN HRC their claims are shown to be false and grossly misleading.
Diamonds are a luxury fashion commodity and anything that tarnishes the public perception of diamonds can cause irreparable damage to the brand image in a relatively short period. The diamond brand image suffered badly in the 90s as a result of the exposure by Global Witness of diamond-funded gross human rights violation in some African countries. The term “blood diamonds” became widely know and the a film of that name starring Leonardo di-Caprio cemented the public association between diamonds and gross human rights violations. In response, the industry introduced regulations known as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP) which purports to end the trade in “conflict diamonds”. However, the KP was seriously flawed from the outset as it only regulates “rough diamonds used by rebel groups….” As a result of this sleight of hand the Israeli diamond industry evades the regulations, and regardless of what human rights violations they may be funding, Israeli diamonds cannot be classed as “conflict diamonds” and are sold to unsuspecting consumers worldwide as conflict free diamonds. Fifty percent of the diamonds in dollar terms sold in America come from Israel.
The diamond campaign has the potential to bring the boycott campaign to a whole new global audience, who are largely not politically aware but who are fashion conscious and demanding of products of proven ethical provenance. If they public begin to associate diamonds from Israel with images of blood-drenched hospital floors and war crimes in Gaza, jewelers will be forced to provide diamonds that are cut and polished in countries that respect human rights and international law.
To date the campaign has focused on raising public awareness about this issue by exposing the gaping hole in the KP regulations which allows diamonds that fund gross human rights violations by government forces to evade the regulations and be labeled as conflict free. The Campaign is spreading information about Israeli blood diamonds via the internet to the global Palestine solidarity community and is pressurizing national and International Jewelers associations to end the trade in diamonds from Israel, calling for an introduction of a hallmarking system for diamonds so the public can identify where a diamond was crafted.
In Europe the issue has brought this to the attention of members of the European Parliament, who have tabled questions to the European Commission calling for a reform of the KP definition of a conflict diamond. Actions in the street to raise awareness with the public have taken place in Ireland and in Hatton Garden, London. A Facebook page dedicated to the diamond campaign has been set up. It has many very informative links going back months.
Israeli brand image is utterly toxic for the diamond industry. Any association with Israel’s deplorable human rights record is extremely bad for the diamond brand image. The diamond industry is very much aware of this and react immediately to any linkage between Israeli diamonds and war crimes. One example here: - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8654956/IMG_0190a.jpg
Blue Nile, the NASDAQ listed, world-leading online diamond retailer has blocked access to their Facebook page (www.facebook.copm/bluenile) to all residents in Ireland. Many people there kept asking if any of their conflict-free diamonds are cut and polished in Israel – the company never answered the question and altered their page blocking over 100,000 fans from posting. That facility has been restored but people in Ireland are still blocked (4).
1. Report on the Israeli diamond industry by Sean Clinton of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign which initiated the campaign: http://electronicintifada.net/content/israels-blood-diamonds/8754
2. Russell Tribunal presentations. Shir Hever’s comments that are referenced are at approx. minute 34: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/1087/video-day-2-afternoon-part-1-of-london-session
3. Graph of Israel’s top 30 export commodities http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8654956/Israel%27s%20Top%2030%20small.jpg
4. The diamond industry’s double standard in relation to Israel http://electronicintifada.net/content/diamond-industrys-double-standard-israel/10102
• Articles on the BNC website:
• Omar Barghouti writes in BDS: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights “......I cannot overemphasize the significance of effective BDS campaigns to raise awareness about Israel’s violations of human rights and international law and to convince diamond buyers to boycott Israeli diamonds”