Looting Hawaiian Gardens
Moskowitz Blasted in California
by Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz Correspondent
Originally published 16 July 2000
in Ha'aretz

A report by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee of the California Legislature cites a series of "questionable practices" perpetrated by the Jewish tycoon Irving Moskowitz, the patron of the Jewish neighborhoods in the village of Abu Dis and in the Ras al Amud area of East Jerusalem.

The 150-page report refers to Moskowitzs project to build a casino in the underdeveloped, predominantly Latino city of Hawaiian Gardens, 19 kilometers southeast of Los Angeles.

According to the report, about 20 years ago the towns Redevelopment Agency began to develop a largely unused area of "prime commercial land" in the hope of invigorating the local economy and eliminating "blight in the community." Moskowitz, the owner of the land, opened a "card club" on the site "to complement a bingo parlor that has been operating as a virtual monopoly by the Irving Moskowitz Foundation (IMP) for many years."

The report states that "Hawaiian Gardens is an example of what can go wrong when redevelopment is manipulated or used for the benefit of one individual rather than for the benefit of the community as a whole."

The committee found evidence that Hawaiian Gardens "has received and continues to receive substantial cash payments and loans from Moskowitz-controlled entities, apparently for the support of the venture.

"A city that embarked on an economic revitalization effort almost 20 years ago has little to show for its efforts save for an inappropriate gaming establishment, approximately $12 million in expenditures of public funds, and financial dependence on the goodwill of one owner/developer who is operating as an illegally-subsidized gaming operation."

The report notes that although California state law "prohibits redevelopment funds from being used to subsidize gaming facilities..., Moskowitz and his agents have effectuated this subsidy in concert with the City and Redevelopment Agency."

Moskowitzs lawyer told the committee that he would not respond to the findings until the committee fulfills its part of a commitment for cooperation between the sides.

Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, the coordinator of the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens, which was established by Jewish and non-Jewish residents of the area, is demanding that Moskowitz return to Hawaiian Gardens the public funds invested in the casino by the millionaire from Miami.

Beliak also wants the authorities to revoke the license for the bingo which Moskowitz operates in the town.

The coalition group stated in a press release that it has been raising funds for projects to help the town undo "the economic and social damage caused by Moskowitz."

"Moskowitz has used the proceeds from the bingo to get his way in Hawaiian Gardens, as well as for funding ultra-right Israeli organizations," Beliak stated.

Copyright 2000, Ha'aretz. For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.

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