Israeli blood diamond agreement scuppered by BDS activists
The BDS campaign to expose the trade in Israeli blood diamonds is claiming victory following the removal of an article published by the Israeli Diamond Exchange (IDE) on Sunday 12th May announcing that the chair of the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE), Peter Meeus, had agreed to organise a delegation of diamond buyers from Dubai to attend a diamond fair in Israel in August.
Following emails to authorities in the United Arab Emirates, Henriette Svensen, PR and Corporate Communications Manager for the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, which hosts the Dubai Diamond Exchange, emailed me today (Wed. 14th) stating that the announcement “would have been issued without Peter Meeus’ knowledge” and “There are indeed no intentions of participating in the Diamond week in August 2013.”
The IDE article, described as a Press Release by Rapaport, was published on the IDE, Rapaport and INDEX website – all leading global diamond industry portals. IDEX reported that it would be a “ground-breaking development”
On Monday 13th the BDS campaign to expose the trade in Israeli blood diamonds shared a link to the Rapaport article on its Facebook page and encouraged people to write to the Dubai Diamond Exchange and ask why they were promoting the trade in Israeli blood diamonds.
An email was sent the United Arab Emirates government on Monday afternoon via their website querying how it could be legal for diamond buyers from Dubai to do business with Israeli diamond companies given that the Arab League maintains a boycott of Israel which prohibits cooperation with Israeli companies and pointing out that Israeli diamonds are a major source of funding for the Israeli military which stands accused of war crimes.
Later that evening the links to the articles on the Rapaport and IDI website were taken down. The IDEX article remained in place until Tuesday when it too was taken down. A cached version of the Rapaport article was still available at the time of writing.
There can be little doubt that this is a significant setback for the Israeli Diamond Industry‘s efforts to develop trade links with the Dubai Diamond Exchange. The DDE has grown exponentially over the last decade and now competes with Tel Aviv for the diamond trade between Africa and the increasingly important and rapidly growing diamond markets in India and China.
While diamond buyers from Dubai may have no intention of travelling to Tel Aviv this does not mean that consumers in Dubai aren’t being sold diamonds crafted in Israel which fund war crimes in Palestine.
De Beers, which is heavily involved with the Israeli diamond industry, has at least two outlets in Dubai. Forevermark diamonds, many of which are crafted by Israeli companies are sold by a number of Dubai jewellery outlets. Tiffany’s, which sources diamonds from the Steinmetz Diamond Group that has “adopted” a Unit of the Givati Brigade of the Israeli military which stands accused of the massacre of the Samounin family in Gaza, also has an outlet in Dubai. Other leading diamond brands, that are known to sell diamonds crafted in Israel, Harry Winston, Graff, and Cartier also have outlets in Dubai.
These companies sell diamonds crafted in Israel and claim they are conflict-free despite the fact that the diamond industry in Israel generates about $1 billion annually in funding for the Israeli military which stands accused of war crimes.
This setback for the Israeli diamond industry comes as the global body known as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), set up ostensibly to prevent the trade in blood diamonds, prepares to meet in South Africa from June 4-7th. The failure of the KPCS to ban diamonds that fund regimes accused of gross human rights violations has lead to a complete lack of confidence in the system and calls for its disbandment.
In a stinging article published this week a leading ethical jeweller, Marc Choyt, writes: “The big family secret in the jewelry sector is that the Kimberley Process Certification (KP), which created a system to prevent blood diamonds from entering the supply chain, now certifies blood diamonds as “conflict free.
Yet, jewelers continue to rely on this now discredited system as an assurance of ethical diamond sourcing. This is an unacceptable practice and its time for KP to be abandoned by jewelers and the public, now.”
The United Arab Emirates is a member of the Kimberley Process. Rather than promoting collaboration with the Israeli diamond industry the UAE should call for Israel to be excluded from the KP and for all diamonds that fund human rights violations to be classed as conflict diamonds and banned.
If that doesn’t happen the diamond brand image will continue to be associated with bloodshed and violence rather than the romantic imagery which the industry has spent millions, if not billions, of dollars promoting over many decades.