(Rapaport…October 18, 2002) The following is the final message written by Abraham Fischler as president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), reprinted from the WFDB’s October newsletter.
I write these words with a degree of sadness, inasmuch as they represent the final newsletter message I will be composing in my current capacity as WFDB president. The past two years have been momentous ones for the world economy in general, and the diamond industry in particular. Despite all the difficulties that we have faced, one thing remains crystal clear to me — we are fortunate to be members of a truly remarkable industry. We still conclude deals worth millions of dollars with a handshake. We extend credit based upon the trust we have for our fellow diamantaires, and do not demand guarantees. We live by a moral code that has evolved over generations of doing business.
I mention these qualities because, when I assumed the post of WFDB president in 2000, the ethical principles of the diamond trade were being questioned in the spotlight of the world media. Since then, in order to outwardly demonstrate our absolute refusal that our industry be tainted in any way, we not only subjected ourselves voluntarily to a system of regulation, but we assisted in its creation. Conflict diamonds indeed were a blight that needed to be eradicated, but diamonds were not the only commodities being traded by rebel forces in Africa. Arms, oil, timber and a variety of other products are generating far greater sums than diamonds ever did, but it is only we that acted decisively. I do not believe that the world has any right to point a finger in our direction again.
Indeed, it is my fervent hope that, when we meet in London at the end of October, the issue of conflict diamonds will not consume very much of our time. The function of the WFDB is to tend to the needs of the diamond business, and these are many. For too long we have allowed ourselves to be sidetracked by extraneous political issues. I appreciate that there were times that these could not be avoided, but we cannot allow them to consume our entire agenda. The international diamond market is growing rapidly, and so is the number of men and women who earn their living from the diamond trade. As the industry’s preeminent representative body, diamantaires in developing markets look to us for leadership. Our primary function is to deal with the interests of our own organization so that it is best able to serve both its existing and prospective members. Ultimately, the future of the diamond business depends upon our ability to do this.
The rude interruption by outside political forces into the diamond trade is why the 30th World Diamond Congress will be taking place in London on October 28 and 29, and it did not take place in Tel Aviv in May as originally planned. To our Israeli colleagues I say that we all realize we missed what would have been a wonderful event, and to Freddy Hager and his team at the London Bourse and Club, I extend our thanks and admiration for being able to step in so efficiently and at such short notice. We are all looking forward to a most productive Congress.