Diamond industry magazine bows to lobby pressure
The April edition of Retail Jeweller magazine published a “letter of the month” 1 exposing the fact that Israeli diamonds evade the human rights strictures applied to rough diamonds by the Kimberley Process regulations. According to the editor, Laura McCreddie, the letter caused “consternation” to a number of readers. Concerns raised by pro-Israeli jewelers over the contents of the letter resulted in the magazine being withdrawn from a major international jewellery fair in Basle, Switzerland2.
Weeks earlier, the editor sought my permission to publish comments I posted to an online article3 she wrote about ethical jewellery, saying they were pertinent. However, she later issued apologies for doing so on the magazine’s web site4 and in the May edition. She sought to distance Retail Jeweller from the comments and claimed the magazine had inadvertently been used to further a political agenda.
But that was not sufficient retribution. In what were clearly political statements, the magazine allowed vested interests in the Israeli diamond industry to castigate me and the magazine’s editorial policy in a synchronised assault via the Letters page of the May edition of the magazine5 and has since refused me the right of reply.
When titans of the Israeli diamond industry try to prevent exposure of seismic faults in the Kimberley Process they are unlikely to be motivated by protection of the public interest but rather by their own self interests. For all their grandstanding it is telling that none of them addressed or refuted the basic point in my letter – that the Kimberley Process facilitates the sale of diamonds from Israel that are funding human rights violations, including war crimes.
Mark Adlestone, of Beaverbrooks jewellers, who you would expect to champion the interests of the jewellery-buying public, wrote a polemic more in keeping with the propaganda regurgitated by representatives of the Israeli government than from a manager of a leading jewellery chain. Some might consider it telling that he was more concerned with defending the apartheid regime in Israel rather than addressing the concerns of consumers who are being conned into buying de facto blood diamonds that fund Israel's war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Mr. Adlestone deconstructs a comparison between Israel and Zimbabwe when no such comparison was implied in my letter. He praises the apartheid Israeli state and its discredited judicial system, a system that just recently passed yet another law that discriminates against Israel’s Palestinian citizens. The law allows Jewish residents on state land inside Israel to refuse to admit Palestinian citizens of Israel as residents and to refuse to sell land to the Palestinians citizens of the state6. Mr. Adlestone ignores troublesome facts for Beaverbrooks and other jewellers: that diamonds from Israel and Zimbabwe which fund human rights violations are contaminating the global diamond market. One wonders if Mr. Adlestone was reflecting his own political views or those of Beaverbrooks.
Eli Avidar, managing director of the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies bizarrely thought the letter, which points out the gaping hole in the Kimberley Process, should not have been published in the trade magazine. The logic of his argument appears to be that because Israel had an influential role in the development of the Kimberley Process the flaws in the Process, which conveniently allow Israel’s cut & polished diamonds to avoid the same human rights standards applied to rough diamonds used by rebels, should not be highlighted or rectified.
The towering figures of the global diamond industry, Avi Paz, Moti Ganz , Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri and Eli Izhakoff fired a shot across the bow of Retail Jeweller magazine and any others who might dare to question the provenance of so-called conflict-free Israeli diamonds. Their pointed comments leave no one in any doubt about their displeasure that Retail Jeweller “chose to be hijacked for political purposes”.
All three letters employ diversion tactics similar to those used by the diamond industry to hoodwink the public into believing that the trade in diamonds which fund human rights violations has ended. The industry wants the public to focus exclusively on the human rights violations funded by rough diamonds and not on those funded by revenue from the far more lucrative trade in cut & polished diamonds which Israel dominates.
Instead of addressing the substantive issues, the writers parrot the same message about the so-called deligitimisation of Israel and dismiss the letter as “political”.
The diamond industry is keen to claim credit for medical, educational and other social benefits some developing countries derive from revenue from the diamond industry but wants to bury the fact that revenue from the diamond industry is funding war crimes in Gaza. The public make no such distinction and will not accept the double standard at the heart of the Kimberley Process which results in diamonds that fund war crimes in Africa being classed as conflict or blood diamond while diamonds that fund war crimes in Palestine are labelled conflict-free.
Rather than this writer deligitimising Israel, it is the actions of the Israeli government that has earned it pariah status. The vested interests in the diamond industry would be better directing their criticism at the government of Israel, a country that benefits more than any other from diamond purchases made by consumers worldwide and whose actions are placing the entire ethical diamond industry in jeopardy.