Looting Hawaiian Gardens
Blasted in California
|by Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz Correspondent
Originally published 16 July 2000
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.
150-page report refers to Moskowitzs project to build a casino in the underdeveloped,
predominantly Latino city of Hawaiian Gardens, 19 kilometers southeast of
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."
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."
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
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.
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
"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.
2003 design by elbop for the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem