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Love and Genocide?

It’s February, and Valentine’s Day is approaching. Love is in the air, and it’s the time of flowers, candy, marriage proposals, and, of course, the bling-bling of diamond rings. But before you run out to Zales, Jared’s, Kays, or Americus Diamond, let’s have a quick convo. I don’t want to put a damper on your engagement, but I think it's important for us to rap about a few things.  Let’s talk diamonds, and no, I won’t advise you on cut, carat, or clarity. I want to rap with you about responsibility and about being the man or woman that the person you are giving that ring to would be proud of.  Let's start with a few basic facts. Israel’s biggest export is diamonds. This is even though not a single diamond mine exists in the State of Israel. Israel's highly skilled workforce, advanced technology, and long tradition of expertise in the field make it experts at cutting and polishing diamonds rather than mining.  Israel is the fifth-largest diamond exporter globally, exporting $9.06 billion worth of diamonds in 2021, and this statistic has a deeply unsettling connection to Africa's exploitation, particularly in the diamond trade. A staggering 66.4% of the world's diamonds originate from Africa, and 20% are artisanal mined, often under dire conditions. Bonded labor, violence, abusive working conditions, and the involvement of middlemen in the supply chain have plagued the diamond mining and cutting industries. The U.S. Department of State's 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report reveals forced labor and …

It’s February, and Valentine’s Day is approaching. Love is in the air, and it’s the time of flowers, candy, marriage proposals, and, of course, the bling-bling of diamond rings. But before you run out to Zales, Jared’s, Kays, or Americus Diamond, let’s have a quick convo. I don’t want to put a damper on your engagement, but I think it’s important for us to rap about a few things. 

Let’s talk diamonds, and no, I won’t advise you on cut, carat, or clarity. I want to rap with you about responsibility and about being the man or woman that the person you are giving that ring to would be proud of. 

Let’s start with a few basic facts. Israel’s biggest export is diamonds. This is even though not a single diamond mine exists in the State of Israel. Israel’s highly skilled workforce, advanced technology, and long tradition of expertise in the field make it experts at cutting and polishing diamonds rather than mining. 

Israel is the fifth-largest diamond exporter globally, exporting $9.06 billion worth of diamonds in 2021, and this statistic has a deeply unsettling connection to Africa’s exploitation, particularly in the diamond trade.

A staggering 66.4% of the world’s diamonds originate from Africa, and 20% are artisanal mined, often under dire conditions. Bonded labor, violence, abusive working conditions, and the involvement of middlemen in the supply chain have plagued the diamond mining and cutting industries. The U.S. Department of State’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report reveals forced labor and child labor in diamond production in countries like Angola, Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Guinea, and Liberia. All African countries, in case you aren’t familiar with them.

In conflict-ridden regions like CAR and DRC, diamonds have funded violent civil wars, exacerbating mining conditions and increasing forced and child labor. Reports indicate that armed groups have exploited children, employing them as combatants, informants, cooks, messengers, and for sexual exploitation. And I think this bears repeating: mining in Africa has been linked to the sexual exploitation of not just women but of children. The use of forced and child labor in Zimbabwe’s Marange fields, as documented by Human Rights Watch, highlights the persistent human rights violations associated with diamond mining.

What does Israel have to do with this? You may be asking if you missed the point of my opening statement. Well, The Jerusalem Post’s article “Israel’s diamond industry has a bloody history” reveals the dark side of Israel’s diamond trade. Israel is one of the world’s top diamond exporters, and its diamond industry is stained with a history of exploitation and human rights abuses. The glittering facade hides the fact that Israel has been a significant player in the global diamond trade, benefiting from the suffering in African diamond mines.

Israel exported $9.06 billion worth of diamonds in 2021, making it the fifth-largest diamond exporter globally. The United States, India, Hong Kong, Belgium, and the United Kingdom are the primary destinations for Israeli diamonds. The fastest-growing export markets for Israeli diamonds between 2020 and 2021 were the United States, India, and the United Kingdom.

The reason that I’m bringing this to your attention is that every diamond that you buy has a direct link to sexual exploitation, dangerous working conditions, death due to unsafe conditions and worker exploitation in Africa, and the purchase of weapons to kill and maim innocent women and children in Palestine. I’m bringing this to your attention because Israel’s largest export is diamonds, and you, along with the rest of the social conscience world community, can come together and stop buying diamonds, cripple Israel’s economy, and help to end the genocide in Palestine.

To break this cycle of exploitation and genocide, consumers can opt for lab-grown diamonds. According to CNN, 17% of the world’s diamonds are now lab-grown. Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds, and choosing them over mined diamonds can contribute to defunding Israel’s war machine and putting an end to the genocide in Gaza.

The greatest love that you can show on Valentine’s Day is to demonstrate your love and commitment to peace, to humanity, and to the children being exploited in Africa and the children dying in Gaza. Get on your knee and propose to that woman, and then present her with that lab-grown diamond to show her that you are standing up for peace and justice like a man that she would be proud to marry. And between you and I, lab-grown diamonds will save you a few bucks, too. I won’t tell if you don’t.

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