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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/1/13

Are Sotheby's Steinmetz diamonds blood diamonds?

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(Article changed on July 2, 2013 at 02:29)

Sotheby's Diamonds is a "unique partnership" between Sotheby's, the international auctioneering company, and the Steinmetz Diamond Group -- a "joint venture" according to the Steinmetz website.

The Steinmetz Diamond Group, through the Agnes and Beny Steinmetz Foundation, funds and supports the Israeli military, which stands accused of war crimes by the UN Human Rights Council (here), Amnesty International (here), Human Rights Watch (here), and Israeli human-rights organisation B'Tselem (here).

Diamonds sold by Sotheby's Diamonds are, therefore, helping to finance the Israeli military which is guilty of gross human-rights violations. Diamonds that fund war crimes are de-facto blood diamonds.


The Steinmetz Foundation website 2012
The Steinmetz Foundation website 2012
(Image by Innovative Minds)
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The Steinmetz Foundation website 2012 by Innovative Minds

On January 12th this year I sent a registered letter to Mr. William F. Ruprecht, President and C.E.O., and the Board of Directors of Sotheby's, outlining the linkage between Sotheby's Diamonds and Israel's human-rights violations - suspected war crimes - in Gaza.

On the 16th of January I emailed a copy of the letter to Sotheby's for Mr. Ruprecht's attention and to-date I have still not received a reply or an acknowledgement.

Sotheby's Diamonds' website doesn't include any information about the funding of the Israeli military. Patrons of Sotheby's Diamonds are unlikely, therefore, to be aware of the fact that Sotheby's Diamonds are supporting the Israeli military.  

Sotheby's directors have not informed shareholders or the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) of the risk to the Sotheby's brand and business posed by the linkage of Sotheby's Diamonds with alleged Israeli human-rights violations.

This issue first came to public attention in June 2012 when De Beers put on display a Forevermark Steinmetz diamond in the Tower of London in honour of the Queen of England's Diamond Jubilee.

Human-rights activists in London staged regular demonstrations outside the Tower highlighting the financial link between Steinmetz diamonds and the massacre of the Samouni family by the Israeli military during the 2008/2009 assault on Gaza -- Operation Cast Lead.

At that time in 2012 the Steinmetz Diamonds website included a page (now deleted) with information about the Steinmetz Foundation, which stated:   "In its support for the IDF, the Foundation has 'adopted' the Tzabar Unit of the Givati Brigade. It fosters a close relationship with the commanders and their soldiers, helping the brigade to organize events, buying equipment for end-of-course ceremonies and giving aid to needy soldiers."

The Steinmetz Foundation website elaborated further:   "During Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, the Foundation helped the Unit purchase complimentary equipment as well as visited and cared for the wounded soldiers."

One thousand, three hundred and eighty-seven Palestinians were killed during Operation Cast Lead. Those killed were mainly civilians; over three hundred of them were children. Thousands more people were injured, maimed, and traumatised during more than three weeks of bombing the defenceless, besieged enclave by Israeli forces from land, sea, and air.

A United Nations Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission into the assault found evidence that Israeli forces committed serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions amounting to war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

The Steinmetz Diamond-funded Givati Brigade was responsible for one of the most serious examples of gross human-rights violations documented by human rights organisations and the UN HRC when 21 members of the Samouni family were murdered. The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem describes the massacre as follows:

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A human rights activists from Ireland with a particular interest in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the global trade in diamonds which are a major source of funding for the Israeli military regime.
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