You know something has to be wrong with you when a handful of celebs don’t want publicity associated with your name. That’s the case with Lev Leviev, the Israeli billionaire denounced by Oxfam America in January for his unethical diamond mining practices and settlement construction. Famous Hollywood photographer Timothy White gives thanks to Leviev in his new book, Hollywood Pinups, released today; Leviev’s diamonds are being featured in the book. In an ironic twist, the book names Oxfam America as one of the recipients of its proceeds–and Oxfam isn’t happy.

Neither are the celebs featured in the book. The PR company that represents Tea Leoni, Kate Walsh, Felicity Huffman, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Melissa George has asked for their names to not be associated with the Leviev, and Oxfam Ambassador Kristin Davis has had her photo removed from Leviev’s website. New York rights coalition Adalah-NY has contacted others and asked them to renounce the company as well, including Susan Sarandon (who wrote the book’s introduction), Vanessa Williams, Kate Hudson, Molly Sims, and Gina Gershon.

An Oxfam America spokesperson, Adrienne Smith, said, “Oxfam reiterates our policy that we are not and never will be partners or beneficiaries of Leviev because of both his mining practices and his support of Israeli settlements on Occupied Palestinian Lands which is in contravention of International Law and a major obstacle in the road to peace… Oxfam is disturbed to find ourselves used in this way and we intend to be proactive in informing those in our community about the deliberate strategy of Leviev Diamonds to connect itself with unwitting charities and celebrities.”

What do you think? Did Leviev redeem himself at all by trying to work with Oxfam? Or is everyone right to continue denouncing this corruption?

  • http://stimpsonwrites.blogspot.com Run-DMS

    The guy can “redeem himself” only by way of an abject public apology, followed by a serious effort to reverse damage done. Giving a little to Oxfam is not enough, especially when one hasn’t acknowledged the extent of one’s wrongdoing.

    Yom Kippur has passed, but he still has a lot of atoning to do. A lot.

  • http://celebrities.com/ Key

    Throwing money at an issue when you’ve caused actual physical damage isn’t going to heal anything. It only makes you look like even more of a jerk.

  • Surfer

    I found this full statement from Oxfam on the book and Leviev

    http://www.oxfamamerica.org/whatwedo/emergencies/israeli-palestinian-conflict/hollywood-pin-ups-statement

    “Hollywood PinUps” Statement
    October 27, 2008

    ——————————————————————————–

    Oxfam welcomes the opportunity to explain the mention of Oxfam America in the new book Hollywood Pin Ups. Two years ago, Oxfam America was approached to be the beneficiary of a future donation from celebrity photographer Timothy White who was creating a book to mark the anniversary of famous images from the past (Esquire’s “Vargas Girls”). At some point in the process, Leviev Diamonds offered to provide diamonds for some of the photo shoots, but Oxfam was not aware of this.

    Just a few weeks ago, an advocacy group, Adalah-NY, tipped us off to the fact that Lev Leviev was promoting the inclusion of Leviev Diamonds in the book and using this to claim to be an Oxfam supporter. When we received a copy of the book we were able to confirm that both Oxfam and Leviev Diamonds are mentioned in the book: Timothy chose to mention his support of Oxfam America in the forward and he decided to describe our mission on a page at the end. On a different page, Leviev Diamonds is thanked by Timothy for loaning diamonds to the photo shoots.

    Given this information, Oxfam immediately acted to reiterate our position to Mr. Leviev and his representatives that he is not an Oxfam supporter or partner and may not claim to be one (which has been our position since January 2008). We also corrected the record in this matter on the Internet.

    Although it’s true that Oxfam and Leviev Diamonds are both mentioned in this book, Oxfam reiterates our policy that we are not and never will be partners or beneficiaries of Leviev because of both his mining practices and his support of Israeli settlements on Occupied Palestinian Lands which is in contravention of International Law and a major obstacle in the road to peace. We will continue to take steps to educate all the parties involved about the reasons behind our policy and to clarify the issue for the public to the best of our ability. Oxfam is disturbed to find ourselves used in this way and we intend to be proactive in informing those in our community about the deliberate strategy of Leviev Diamonds to connect itself with unwitting charities and celebrities.

  • rozele

    it’s great to see leviev failing so badly at his strategy of claiming to be a philanthropist to distract attention from his involvement in violent displacement of farmers, attacks on mine workers, and other human rights violations.

    i wonder whether it’s become harder to get away with this kind of thing recently because more people are familiar with the strategy in its “greenwashing” version? it’s not that leviev is all that much worse than the many other businessmen and corporations involved in the israeli occupation, in exploitation of african natural resources, or in displacement of poor and working-class new yorkers… and its not that the philanthropic screen tactic is new, either. andrew carnegie used it a the turn of the 20th century. they used to say that you could tell when carnegie had used gunmen to break up a union organizing campaign in a town – the town was sure to have a library with his name on it.

    if you live by inventing an image for your brand, you’ll die by the emergence of the truth behind the facade…

    i just hope these celebrities start paying more consistent attention – the way oxfam does – to who they’re getting in bed with. supporters of a racist military occupation shouldn’t ever be feted.

  • Tereza Coraggio

    I like how this is working. People like me, who never heard of Leviev, now know he’s slime and Oxfam and these celebrities have come out unequivocally against his mining practices and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The fence is shaking! Those trying to stay on it are being forced to jump – on the side of money or the side of people.
    Greenwashers beware! Inappropriate use of this product may result in a sickly chlorine green instead of desired color.