Los Angeles Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik devoted his February 26th column to Irving Moskowitz's license application and Moskowitz's presence in Hawaiian Gardens, where, writes Hiltzik, "the Moskowitz story is a lesson in what can happen when one person acquires so much money and power in a tiny, destitute place that his shadow falls over everything and everybody." Please click here to read the column on the Times' website.



Click Here to Read Articles from the December 18, 2003 hearing
Click Here to Read Articles from the January 9, 2004 hearing
Articles on the January 9, 2004 California Gambling Control Commission's Hearing on
Whether Moskowitz Should Receive a Permanent Casino License
(2 Articles)

Jury Still Out on Hawaiian Gardens
By David Finnigan, Contributing Writer
The Jewish Journal
January 16, 2004

The California Gambling Commission has delayed voting on Dr. Irving Moskowitz’s permanent license request so commissioners can examine extensive public comments on the Hawaiian Gardens Casino card club, which Moskowitz partly uses to fund West Bank settlers.

Commissioner Arlo Smith closed the Jan. 9 hearing by saying the three-member commission would make "a further evaluation of all the comments here" and review Moskowitz’s license request at a February hearing still to be determined.

Opponents have waged a long battle against the retired Long Beach doctor who became a bingo/casino impresario and single-handedly changed poor, tiny Hawaiian Gardens in southeast Los Angeles County. The "character" portion of an applicant’s license is what opponents attack by asking commissioners to connect Moskowitz using part of his gambling proceeds to buy East Jerusalem land for Jewish settlers.

"They need to follow the money," said the Rev. Chris Ponnett of St. Camillus Pastoral Care Center.

Like the commission’s Moskowitz-dominated Dec. 18 hearing in downtown Los Angeles, at the Jan. 9 hearing, 28 people spoke for and against a permanent license for the Hawaiian Gardens Casino card club, which is now running on a temporary license. Opponents included a Fresno philosophy professor and Jewish peace activist and actor Ed Asner, who said to commissioners, "We strongly question that this is a good character."

Moskowitz’s supporters included the reclusive doctor’s son, David, who is also a doctor. He said the opponents’ tactics were, "exceptionally distasteful ... lies, innuendo and libel at my parents."

Beryl Weiner, Moskowitz’s personal attorney for 31 years, ignored both sides’ harsher comments and addressed each criticism of the license application, saying that more than six years of state probes have pronounced Moskowitz’s operations clean.

Weiner said the once-poor Hawaiian Gardens city government now has surplus funds thanks to gambling and that opponents want, "a third bite at the apple," by asking commissioners to hold up the permanent casino license by injecting Israel into the debate.

"Those political issues have nothing whatsoever to do with this gambling application license," he said. — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer


State official said to OK casino
Panel delays vote, probes issues at Hawaiian Gardens club.
By Joe Segura
Staff writer
Long Beach Press Telegram
January 10, 2004


Friday, January 09, 2004 - LOS ANGELES The state attorney general is reportedly recommending approval of the Hawaiian Gardens card- club operating license, but the Gambling Control Commission put off its vote Friday so that it can review some of the issues raised during two hearings.

Supporters and opponents of the license for the controversial card club owned by retired physician Irving Moskowitz said they had not seen the recommendation, as both sides continued to press their aims of getting the commission's thumbs up or down.

The casino generates several millions of dollars annually in tax revenues, making it Hawaiian Gardens' largest single source of funding.

Friday's second hearing followed the pattern of the first session last month in downtown Los Angeles, with supporters painting Moskowitz as a generous man whose bingo foundation pays for numerous youth and senior programs while also being the city's largest employer with his nearby card club on Carson Street.

In a series of counterpunches, opponents continued to hammer away at assertions that Moskowitz spends the bulk of some $30 million in bingo profits on militant right-wing Israeli groups that are bent on settling the West Bank by forcing out the Palestinians .

In a final comment from the opponents, actor Ed Asner charged that Moskowitz failed to disclose to the commission a series of lawsuits that reflected on the retired doctor's character, including one filed by the civil rights advocate Mexican American Legal Defense Fund asserting the bingo club volunteer workers are paid only tips, violating state labor law. Asner asserted Moskowitz "flagrantly failed' to disclose on his operating permit application another bingo club operation in Long Island, N.Y.

"We urge you to deny him the license,' Asner said, speaking on behalf of the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem.

David Moskowitz, the son of the retired physician, decried the negative comments about his father. He said the Long Island bingo operation was not under his father's control, but simply a "landlord (Moskowitz)-tenant' deal.

And the younger Moskowitz chided critics for belittling his father's donations to Hawaiian Gardens. "They haven't given one cent to the people,' he said.

Moskowitz family attorney Beryl Weiner said the card club has made Hawaiian Gardens one of the few cities in the state with a surplus.

The card-club application has been extensively reviewed by state agencies, which he said sent investigators to Israel. And the challenge to the card club with a lawsuit had been denied by a judge, as had the MALDEF lawsuit, Weiner said.


Articles on the December 18, 2003 California Gambling Control Commission's Hearing on
Whether Moskowitz Should Receive a Permanent Casino License
(7 Articles, 1 Audio Link)

Gaming Hearing Takes Israel Spin
by David Finnigan, Contributing Writer
The Jewish Journal (www.jewishjournal.com)
December 26, 2003


Bingo impresario Dr. Irving Moskowitz is either the hero of Hawaiian Gardens or a prolific and controversial supporter of West Bank settlements, according to wildly differing viewpoints expressed at a Dec. 18 state Gambling Control Commission hearing on his casino license request.

At issue during the hearing was the character of Moskowitz, because it is a factor in granting an applicant a permanent gambling license. In Moskowitz’s case, it involves his profitable, Las Vegas-style Hawaiian Gardens Casino card club, which is currently operating with a temporary license.

The hearing drew Moskowitz supporters that included Jewish conservatives, plus Hawaiian Gardens Hispanics and elderly residents. On the other side there were ex-casino employees allied with Jewish liberals and middle-class peace activists.

Moskowitz’s supporters endorse his permanent license request. They believe that he has helped small Hawaiian Gardens and that his alliances with Israel’s religious conservatives are irrelevant to his Gambling Commission license request.

Moskowitz’s opponents are fighting the request, because they want the commission to consider how gambling profits are allegedly fueling intense Israel-Palestinian tensions through his funding of ultra-Orthodox settlers in the West Bank.

So extensive was testimony on both sides that the commission agreed to hear more comments at its Jan. 9 meeting, at which time it will either vote on the license request or study the matter further.

“Everything comes from Dr. Moskowitz,” one Hawaiian Gardens woman said about the retired Long Beach doctor. Moskowitz opened a lucrative bingo hall, founded Long Beach’s Hebrew Academy and has served on the Zionist Organization of America’s board of directors.

The woman’s comment encapsulated the one point that pro- and anti-Moskowitz forces agree on: Moskowitz is central to everything in Hawaiian Gardens, a small, poor southeast Los Angeles County city. Money from his bingo and casino operations allegedly gives Moskowitz an unusual hold on the town’s politics.

Moskowitz is also central to the war chests of Israel’s conservative and far-right political movements. Funds from bingo and casino operations have allowed him to buy East Jerusalem land for Jewish settlers.

“What goes on in Israel is irrelevant to his entitlement to receive a gaming license for a small town in California,” said Beryl Weiner, personal attorney for Moskowitz, who lives in Miami Beach and did not attend the commission meeting.

Weiner said state officials performed an “unprecedented” four-and-a-half-year probe of Moskowitz’s finances, with California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer pronouncing him fit for a permanent casino license. Moskowitz’s opponents countered by saying Moskowitz has held a Lockyer fundraiser.

For several hours in downtown Los Angeles, the commission heard comments about Middle East politics and Moskowitz’s settlement financing, rather then on gambling.

“There’s no such thing as a Palestine in Israel, and with the help of God, there never will be,” said Moskowitz supporter and conservative Jewish activist Max Kessler. “The Arabs had a chance for this land in 1948, and they gambled and they lost.”

Moskowitz is “the pre-eminent financier of Israel’s extremist settler groups,” said Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak of the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem, who lead the Moskowitz opposition. Actor Ed Asner also spoke in opposition at the hearing.

Hawaiian Gardens Mayor Betty Schultze was one of several residents who praised Moskowitz’s local philanthropy and charities. However, opponents see Moskowitz as an old-fashioned political boss, reportedly pulling the strings, controlling elected leaders.

The small city was plagued by gang problems until Moskowitz’s businesses became the community’s largest employer, after which the crime rate dropped.

“If we didn’t have him, we wouldn’t be a city,” the mayor said. “We need him very much.”

“We’re a poor city. That doesn’t make us a bad city,” said Hawaiian Gardens apartment manager Thelma Mullins. “All this unrest in the Middle East has been going on for years. I don’t know what it has to do with running a casino.”

Hanging over the entire hearing was the absent Moskowitz, who dominated it despite being in Miami Beach.

“Maybe the real issue here is, ‘Who is Dr. Moskowitz?’” anti-Moskowitz attorney Jay Plotkin said to the commission. “The real Irving Moskowitz, the person who is not here today.”


Gaming Hearing Takes Israel Spin
Gambling Magazine (www.gamblingmagazine.com)
December 26, 2003

Bingo impresario Dr. Irving Moskowitz is either the hero of Hawaiian Gardens or a prolific and controversial supporter of West Bank settlements, according to wildly differing viewpoints expressed at a Dec. 18 state Gambling Control Commission hearing on his casino license request.

At issue during the hearing was the character of Moskowitz, because it is a factor in granting an applicant a permanent gambling license. In Moskowitz's case, it involves his profitable, Las Vegas-style Hawaiian Gardens Casino card club, which is currently operating with a temporary license.

The hearing drew Moskowitz supporters that included Jewish conservatives, plus Hawaiian Gardens Hispanics and elderly residents. On the other side there were ex-casino employees allied with Jewish liberals and middle-class peace activists.

Moskowitz's supporters endorse his permanent license request. They believe that he has helped small Hawaiian Gardens and that his alliances with Israel's religious conservatives are irrelevant to his Gambling Commission license request.

Moskowitz's opponents are fighting the request, because they want the commission to consider how gambling profits are allegedly fueling intense Israel-Palestinian tensions through his funding of ultra-Orthodox settlers in the West Bank.

So extensive was testimony on both sides that the commission agreed to hear more comments at its Jan. 9 meeting, at which time it will either vote on the license request or study the matter further.

“Everything comes from Dr. Moskowitz,” one Hawaiian Gardens woman said about the retired Long Beach doctor. Moskowitz opened a lucrative bingo hall, founded Long Beach's Hebrew Academy and has served on the Zionist Organization of America's board of directors.

The woman's comment encapsulated the one point that pro- and anti-Moskowitz forces agree on: Moskowitz is central to everything in Hawaiian Gardens, a small, poor southeast Los Angeles County city. Money from his bingo and casino operations allegedly gives Moskowitz an unusual hold on the town's politics.

Moskowitz is also central to the war chests of Israel's conservative and far-right political movements. Funds from bingo and casino operations have allowed him to buy East Jerusalem land for Jewish settlers.

“What goes on in Israel is irrelevant to his entitlement to receive a gaming license for a small town in California,” said Beryl Weiner, personal attorney for Moskowitz, who lives in Miami Beach and did not attend the commission meeting.

Weiner said state officials performed an “unprecedented” four-and-a-half-year probe of Moskowitz's finances, with California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer pronouncing him fit for a permanent casino license. Moskowitz's opponents countered by saying Moskowitz has held a Lockyer fundraiser.

For several hours in downtown Los Angeles, the commission heard comments about Middle East politics and Moskowitz's settlement financing, rather then on gambling.

“There's no such thing as a Palestine in Israel, and with the help of God, there never will be,” said Moskowitz supporter and conservative Jewish activist Max Kessler. “The Arabs had a chance for this land in 1948, and they gambled and they lost.”

Moskowitz is “the pre-eminent financier of Israel's extremist settler groups,” said Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak of the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem, who lead the Moskowitz opposition. Actor Ed Asner also spoke in opposition at the hearing.

Hawaiian Gardens Mayor Betty Schultze was one of several residents who praised Moskowitz's local philanthropy and charities. However, opponents see Moskowitz as an old-fashioned political boss, reportedly pulling the strings, controlling elected leaders.

The small city was plagued by gang problems until Moskowitz's businesses became the community's largest employer, after which the crime rate dropped.

“If we didn't have him, we wouldn't be a city,” the mayor said. “We need him very much.”

“We're a poor city. That doesn't make us a bad city,” said Hawaiian Gardens apartment manager Thelma Mullins. “All this unrest in the Middle East has been going on for years. I don't know what it has to do with running a casino.” Hanging over the entire hearing was the absent Moskowitz, who dominated it despite being in Miami Beach.


KPCC Radio: Gambling Commission Considers License for Controversial Casino Owner
Frank Stoltze
December 18, 2003

Click here to listen (in Real Audio)
Opponents crowd a hearing of the state gambling commission to call on the agency to deny Irving Moskowitz a permanent license to run his casino in Hawaiian Gardens, citing his alleged support of extremists in Israel and his alleged violations of his workers' labor rights.


Israel Donor's Gaming License Opposed
By Richard Marosi, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times
December 19, 2003


A group of peace and local activists urged state regulators Wednesday to deny a permanent gaming license to a Hawaiian Gardens casino owner who has funded right-wing Israeli causes in the Middle East.

Dr. Irving Moskowitz has operated a bingo parlor and card club for several years in the southeast Los Angeles County community, drawing praise as a philanthropist and criticism for using profits to buy land for Jewish settlers in Israel.

His application for a permanent gaming license has met with the most opposition for any card club in California, state officials said. Though the state attorney general's office recommended that the license be approved, activists told Gambling Control Commission members that Moskowitz's business empire required further scrutiny.

"The bingo money is Moskowitz's box of matches…. Granting Moskowitz a permanent license would be like handing him a can of gasoline,'' said Haim Beliak, the co-director of the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem.

Turning the focus on Hawaiian Gardens, Moskowitz supporters said the revenue generated by the casino had helped turn around the working-class city.

What Moskowitz does with his money is his business, said his attorney, Beryl Weiner. He said state officials had investigated all of Moskowitz's contributions and found no reason to deny him his license.

"I'm sure Mr. Moskowitz has made contributions to Israel, but he has every right to do so,'' Weiner said.

The commission scheduled another hearing in January.


Public has 2 views of club owner
Some attack Moskowitz, others call him a saint
Long Beach Press-Telegram
By Joe Segura, Staff writer
December 19, 2003

LOS ANGELES Hawaiian Gardens card-club owner Irving Moskowitz was painted Thursday as an irresponsible ultraconservative international pest, but also defended as a saintly man who repeatedly helps the poor.

The two portraits part of the ongoing political debates and battles regarding his lucrative bingo club and card club were dusted off once again before the state Gambling Control Commission, which apparently is moving closer to a decision on whether to issue him a permanent gambling permit. Another commission hearing is set to continue the review on Jan. 9.

The casino generates several million dollars annually in tax revenues, making it Hawaiian Gardens' largest single source of funding. That's part of the strong support Moskowitz has earned from community members.

Moskowitz was not at the hearing in downtown Los Angeles, but Hawaiian Gardens Mayor Betty Schultze praised him for the financial support he's given for a hospital and youth programs. "We need him very much,' she said.

Councilman Leonard Chaidez emphasized that Moskowitz won strong voter approval for the casino in November 1995.

"He's been a friend and a partner to the community,' he testified.

However, Moskowitz critics sharply attacked him for sending the bulk of his money including millions from his Bingo Club that's adjacent to the card club to Israeli conservative groups that have been proactively resisting Palestinian settlements, and at times triggering violent and deadly flare-ups.

Critics including veteran television actor Ed Asner contend that he supports right-wing extremists in Israel, fueling international tensions.

"Dr. Moskowitz is the guy in the black hat,' he said.

Asner said that Moskowitz's purchases of land in the Middle East have "delayed, stalled and crippled the peace efforts.'

Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, co-director of the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem, charged that Moskowitz also had bought his influence in Hawaiian Gardens, so that the card club could take root. He added that the square-mile town is being used by Moskowitz as a "base of operation for his ultraconservative operatives.'

The rabbi, who has been locking horns with Moskowitz supporters for about a decade, told the commission that Hawaiian Gardens should get the bulk of the funding resources, especially for youth programs.

Supporters heatedly countered that Moskowitz is instrumental in providing food bank resources for poor families and hot lunches for seniors adding that the Israeli crisis should not be put on Moskowitz's lap. "It did not start with the bingo club,' one woman said. "It did not start with the card club.'

However, critics, including former city Police Chief Walter McKinney, continued to attack Moskowitz's character, contending that he would often keep needed funding away from youth programs if the leadership did not throw support behind the card-club proposal.

Attorney Jay Plotkin, who represents the coalition of critics, called for a fuller review of Moskowitz, adding that the issues raised Thursday foster serious doubts about the retired physician's character.

"It doesn't quite pass the smell test,' he told the commission.


Extreme Bets
by Jim Lobe
Published by Tom Paine (TomPaine.com) and ProgressiveTrail.org
December 18, 2003

If President George W. Bush were really serious about fighting religious extremism in the Middle East and South Asia, he would send a senior official to Los Angeles on December 18 to testify before California's new Gambling Control Commission.

For the past two years, his administration has been pressing regulatory agencies around the world to stop the flow of funds from wealthy individuals and foundations to Islamic groups and institutions that fuel Islamic extremism. And in the United States, it has effectively shut down a number of Islamic charities that fund social and educational programs that the administration believes are associated with extremist groups.

So one would think it would have something to say about the institutions and programs in Israel and the Occupied Territories that have been funded over the last 15 years by Dr. Irving Moskowitz, a 75-year-old businessman whose application for a permanent license to run a casino in the impoverished, predominantly Latino town of Hawaiian Gardens will be reviewed in public hearings by the Commission this week.

Moskowitz, whose bingo operation next door has provided extremist settler organizations in Israel and the West Bank with millions of dollars since 1987, stands to make tens of millions of dollars more through the far more profitable casino, which has reportedly grossed about $180 million a year since it started operating several years ago.

Because Moskowitz owns the casino outright, the disposition of his earnings from it is not publicly available. But, if the contributions made by the Irving I. Moskowitz Foundation that runs the bingo operation is any guide, then the administration should be very concerned.

"When you give someone a license to run a casino, you're effectively giving him a license to print money," says Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, a veteran critic of Moskowitz who co-directs the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem. "Knowing how he has used the bingo money to foster extremism and violence, how can you turn around and give him a casino license?"

The Coalition, which is backed by several national Jewish, Muslim, Latino and peace groups, including Americans for Peace Now, argues that Moskowitz's operations both in Hawaiian Gardens and in the Middle East should make him ineligible for a license under both the technical and "good character" requirements of California's gaming laws.

Testifying on behalf of the Coalition will be its three honorary chairs: actor Ed Asner; filmmaker Wallace Albertson; and Stanley Sheinbaum, a longtime Middle East peace activist and former L.A. Police Commissioner.

If President George W. Bush were really serious about fighting religious extremism in the Middle East and South Asia, he would send a senior official to Los Angeles on December 18 to testify before California's new Gambling Control Commission.

For the past two years, his administration has been pressing regulatory agencies around the world to stop the flow of funds from wealthy individuals and foundations to Islamic groups and institutions that fuel Islamic extremism. And in the United States, it has effectively shut down a number of Islamic charities that fund social and educational programs that the administration believes are associated with extremist groups.

Former municipal officials—also expected to testify—have charged that Moskowitz effectively "hijacked" the municipal government to build the casino and enrich his business interests at the expense of the community's general welfare. Their case is supported in part by a 2000 report by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee in Sacramento which charged that Moskowitz and city government officials conspired to illegally divert city redevelopment money to build the casino.

But testimony will also be presented to persuade the three-member commission that Moskowitz' applicaton should be denied for the same basic reasons that the Bush administration has pressed Arab governments to shut down charities that fund radical Islamists.

Beliak refers specifically to several Moskowitz-funded initiatives that should be of concern to Bush, the most deadly of which—the excavation and opening of a subterranean tunnel near Muslim holy places in East Jerusalem—sparked three days of rioting that killed more than 70 people, most of them Palestinian.

Since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Moskowitz and foundations he controls have secretly purchased, often at highly inflated prices, Arab homes in and around East Jerusalem in order to move in the most militant factions of the Jewish settlement movement. He has also bought tracts of property in strategic locations, such as Abu Dis and Ras al-Amud, around the city to separate nearby Arab towns and villages from the heart of Jerusalem. These activities, he has said, are designed to "redeem" Jerusalem for the Jews and Israel.

He has often arranged to move in settlers or begin construction on his properties at particularly sensitive moments in peace efforts, precisely in order to inflame tensions between the two peoples, spurringTime magazine to refer to Moskowitz in 1997 as "arguably the most pivotal player in the Middle East."

One beneficiary of his largess (about $6 million from 1987 to 2001, according to IRS 990 forms compiled by the Coalition), is Aterit Cohanim, a particularly aggressive group that occupies houses in the Arab East Jerusalem to consolidate Jewish control of the entire city. Its goal is to rebuild the Old Temple on the site of the Dome of the Rock and al Aqsa Mosque and resume animal sacrifice (its members are already training) in order to hasten the coming of the Jewish Messiah.

He has also been a big supporter of settlements in the Hebron area, including Beit Hadassah, located in the heart of the West Bank City, whose 500 or so members have clashed repeatedly with Palestinian residents—and even the Israeli Army, when it has tried to restrain them—as well as the much larger Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of the city.

Kiryat Arba is a pilgrimage site for settlement extremists—and U.S. Christian Right groups that support them—because it contains the grave of Baruch Goldstein, the U.S.-born settler who massacred 29 Palestinian worshipers at Hebron's central mosque in 1994.

He has also heavily funded Beit El, a settlement in a densely populated area near Jerusalem, that also has a history of clashes with its Arab neighbors and is led by the current government's Minister of Tourism, Benny Elon. Elon, a rabbi who has cultivated close ties with the Christian Right in the United States, is one of Israel's most prominent proponents of "transfer;" that is, moving all Palestinians in "Greater Israel" to Jordan and denying citizenship to any who insist on remaining.

Most of the bingo money Moskowitz's foundation has contributed to the settlement movement has been earmarked for yeshivas, or religious schools, that are at the center of community life. In this, they are very similar to madrassas in the Islamic world. Indeed, "beit midrash," a Hebrew synonym for yeshiva, is linguistically and theologically the same as maddrassa.

As in the Islamic world, most such schools teach a moderate and reflective Judaism, while others seek to inculcate a far more radical and militant political vision. In virtually every case, according to Beliak, it is the latter that Moskowitz has funded.

"Students are taught that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people; that it won't be fertile until Jews are in full control of it, at which point it will respond miraculously to the presence of Jews," Beliak, who was trained in Israel, says. "Moskowitz is not supporting the people who sit and study; he funds those that are ideologically mobilized, whose students are prepared at any moment to take part in protests and demonstrations and who think it is their right to uproot olive trees on Arab land, overturn vegetable stands in Arab markets and wreak havoc."

To these groups, the Oslo peace process—or any negotiation that envisages the surrender of territory to the Palestinians—is anathema. And it was from one of them that Yigal Amir, the assassin of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, emerged. Amir was a law student at Bar Ilan University, whose religious studies program Moskowitz's foundation has helped support, according to IRS forms.

When pressed, Moskowitz deplored the assassination in public, so it was especially surprising when, in February 2000, Israel's Yedioth Aharano' newspaper traced an Internet assassination "game" that invited visitors to "destroy" then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak and other Labour Party leaders to Cherna Moskowitz, Irving's wife and business partner. The game, which was quickly removed, encouraged visitors to click on a leader's picture that would then "explode" on the screen accompanied by a scream.

To the Coalition, which saved the game on its website, such incitement—about which the administration has repeatedly complained in connection with radical Islamic sites—should prompt Bush to weigh in Thursday.

"If the administration wants to be credible in demanding that Arabs close down charities that fund radical madrassas," says Jane Hunter, the Coalition's co-director, "Then it should also cut the flow of tax-free U.S. dollars to their Jewish equivalents, the yeshivas that Moskowitz funds."

Moskowitz's foundation has also contributed heavily to neo-conservative "think tanks" close to top administration hawks. It gave nearly $500,000 to the Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy between 1987 and 2001 and some $300,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, apparently to fund the work of David Wurmser, Vice President Dick Cheney's Middle East advisor and author of a series of publications calling for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the destabilization of Syria.

It appears that the Coalition's fight against religious extremism in the Middle East will not be getting much help from the Bush administration.


Coalition of American groups tries to shut off source of funding for Israeli extremists
California Casino owner has funnelled millions of dollars to fund radical settlement movements
Jim Lobe
Special to The Daily Star (The Daily Star, Lebanon)
December 17, 2003

WASHINGTON: A small group of Californians is trying hard to contribute to the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism” by shutting down an important source of financing for religious extremism in the Middle East.

No, the effort is not directed against Arab funding of radical terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaeda. In this case, the target is Jewish extremism in Israel and the Occupied Territories, and the source is a gambling casino located in Hawaiian Gardens, a small, impoverished, predominantly Latino town in greater Los Angeles. The casino is owned by a 75-year-old medical doctor and businessman named Irving Moskowitz.

His Irving I. Moskowitz Foundation has funnelled tens of millions of dollars earned from a bingo parlor next door to the casino since the 1980s through various charities and foundations, some of which are also controlled by him, that support the most extreme elements of the Jewish settlement movement in Israel and the territories, according to tax records obtained by the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem (www.stopmoskowitz.org).
The foundation also provided hundreds of thousands of dollars between 1987 and 2001 (the last year for which records are available) to right-wing US Zionist groups, particularly the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), as well as neo-conservative think tanks ­ among them the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) whose leaders were at the forefront of the drive to war in Iraq and called for stronger US action against Hizbullah, Syria and Iran.

While the foundation’s earnings from the bingo parlor, which grosses around $35 million a year, can be traced through tax records, what Moskowitz does with the profits he makes from the casino, which grosses about $180 million a year, is unknown. As the owner of a private enterprise, his tax records are not publicly available.

Most observers, however, believe he has been spending his casino earnings in much the same way as the bingo profits ­ that is, providing millions of dollars to militant extremist groups, such as the Aterit Cohanim, which occupies houses in the Arab quarter of East Jerusalem in order to consolidate Jewish control of the entire city. Their self-professed goal is to rebuild the Old Temple on the site of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque and perform animal sacrifices, thus hastening the coming of the Jewish Messiah.

While the casino has apparently been a cash cow for Moskowitz since it began operating several years ago, in order to continue operations he must obtain a license from California’s new Gambling Control Commission. The denial of his license application is the goal of the coalition, which consists of community groups, former municipal officials, Latino, Muslim, and Jewish activist groups, including about two dozen rabbis who serve on its advisory council. The coalition is also supported by national peace groups such as the Americans for Peace Now, a predominantly Jewish organization.

The coalition announced Wednesday that it will present testimony opposing the application at a public hearing in Los Angeles on Thursday. Among those testifying will be the coalition’s three honorary chairs ­ actor Ed Asner; film-maker Wallace Albertson; and Stanley Sheinbaum, a long-time Middle East peace activist and former Los Angeles Police commissioner ­ as well as former local officials who charge that Moskowitz has effectively “hijacked” the municipal government to build the casino and enrich his business interests at the expense of the community’s general welfare.

Most of the testimony is expected to focus on specific ways that the casino violated the letter and spirit of the state’s gaming laws. The coalition contends, for example, that Moskowitz spent far more than permitted by law to win approval of the initiative that originally authorized the casino and that much of that money was doled out in cash to city employees and commissioners, as well as street gangs who harassed voters to approve it. In addition, a Joint Legislative Audit Committee charged three years ago that Moskowitz and the city government conspired to illegally divert city redevelopment money to build the casino.

But testimony will also be presented to persuade the three-member Commission that the application should be denied for the same reasons that the Bush administration has pressed Arab governments to shut down charities that fund radical Islamists.

“Knowing how he has used the bingo money to foster extremism and violence, how can you turn around and give him a casino license?” asked the coalition co-director, Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak. “When you give someone a license to run a casino, you’re effectively giving him a license to print money.”
Beliak, who serves two Conservative Jewish congregations close to Hawaiian Gardens, referred to several Moskowitz-funded initiatives in Israel and the West Bank, the most deadly of which ­ the excavation and 1996 opening of a subterranean tunnel near Muslim holy places in East Jerusalem ­ sparked three days of rioting that killed more than 70 people, most of them Palestinian.

Since the 1967 war, Moskowitz and foundations controlled by him have secretly purchased ­ often at highly inflated prices ­ Arab homes in and around East Jerusalem with the apparent intent of eventually moving in the most militant factions of the settlement movement. When the Labor government froze funding for such acquisitions in 1992, his purchases became more important by helping the settlement movement plug the gap in financing.

He has also bought tracts of property in strategic locations, such as Abu Dis and Ras al-Amud, around the city to separate nearby Arab towns and villages from the heart of Jerusalem. These activities, he has said, are designed to “redeem” Jerusalem for the Jews and Israel.

He has often arranged to move in settlers or begin construction on his properties at sensitive moments in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, to inflame tensions between the two peoples, spurring Time magazine in 1997 to refer to Moskowitz as “arguably the most pivotal player in the Middle East.”
In addition to any personal money he may have used to acquire these properties, his foundation poured some $4 million between 1993 and 2001 for such purchases to the Miami-based American Friends of Everest Foundation (a play on the verse in the Book of Isaiah that identifies Zion as the world’s highest mountain), which is controlled by Moskowitz and his family, according to the tax documents.

Indeed, he has poured millions of dollars through many “American Friends” foundations, including the American Friends of Ariel, one of the more prominent settlements’ American Friends of Ateret Cohanim to which he contributed nearly $6 million from his foundation’s bingo earnings between 1990 and 2001; American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva; American Friends of Mercaz Harav Kook ($7.3 million between 1997 and 2001); and several others.

The foundation’s support for the settler movement in the West Bank and the Golan Heights has been continuous. Between 1995 and 2001, it provided nearly $750,000 to the Hebron Fund and related charities which, according to Beliak, have supported Beit Hadassah, a settlement located in the heart of the West Bank city for about 500 settlers who have repeatedly clashed with Palestinian residents and even the Israeli Army when it has tried to restrain them.

Beit Hadassah is closely linked to a much larger settlement on the outskirts of Hebron, the home of Baruch Goldstein, the US-born settler who massacred 29 Palestinian worshipers at Hebron’s central mosque in 1994 before being overcome and killed. His grave at Kiryat Arba has become a shrine for the settler movement.

The residents of another settlement, Beit El, set in a densely populated Palestinian area near Jerusalem, also have a history of clashes with their Arab neighbors and are led by the Israeli Tourism Minister Benny Elon. Elon, a rabbi who frequently speaks before Christian Right audiences in the US, is a long-time associate of Moskowitz and one of Israel’s most outspoken supporters of “transfer” ­ that is, moving all Palestinians in “Greater Israel” to Jordan and denying citizenship to all those who resist moving

Most of the bingo money Moskowitz has contributed to the settlement movement has been earmarked for religious schools, or yeshivas, that are the center of community life. According to Beliak, who was trained in Israel, the yeshiva, or “beit midrash, is both the linguistic and theological counterpart of the Islamic madrassa.

As in the Islamic world, most such schools teach a moderate form of Judaism, while others instruct a far more radical and political vision. These are the ones that Moskowitz has favored, Beliak said.

“Students are taught that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people; that it won’t be fertile until Jews are in full control of it, at which point it will respond miraculously to the presence of Jews,” Beliak said.

“Moskowitz is not supporting the people who sit and study; he funds those that are ideologically mobilized, whose students are prepared at any moment to take part in protests and demonstrations, and who think it is their right to uproot olive trees on Arab land, overturn vegetable stands in Arab markets, and wreak havoc,” he added.

To these groups, the Oslo peace process ­ or any negotiation that envisages the surrender of territory to the Palestinians ­ has been anathema. And it was from one of them that Yigal Amir, the man who assassinated former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, emerged. Amir was a law student at Bar Ilan University, whose religious studies program Moskowitz’s foundation has helped support, according to the tax records.

Moskowitz, who had compared Rabin’s policies to Western Europe’s appeasement of the Nazis before World War II, condemned the assassination as “not good for peace or the Jewish nation” but reportedly was more ambiguous in a private conversation with a close childhood friend.

Remarkably, in February, 2000, Israel’s Yedioth Aharanot newspaper traced an internet assassination “game” that invited visitors to “destroy” then Prime Minister Ehud Barak and other Labor Party leaders to Cherna Moskowitz, Irving’s wife and business partner who also serves as an officer in his foundations.

The game, which was quickly removed after complaints were received, encouraged visitors to click on a leader’s picture which would then “explode” on the screen, accompanied by the sound of screaming.

To the coalition ­ which saved a copy of the game ­ such incitement offers further ammunition for their case that the Moskowitzes do not meet the “good character” criterion California law requires of a gambling license. And they believe that the Bush administration should back up that position.

“If the administration wants to be credible in demanding that Arabs close down charities that fund radical madrassass,” says Jane Hunter, the coalition’s co-director, “then it should also cut the flow of tax-free US dollars to their Jewish equivalents, the yeshivas that Moskowitz funds.”

According to the Coalition’s records, Moskowitz’s foundation has also contributed to Christian Zionist groups that have in turn supported the settlement movement and to US policy groups that identify with extreme Israeli nationalists, including about $500,000 to Americans for a Safe Israel and some $650,000 to ZOA, whose president, Morton Klein, has courted the Christian Right, particularly the Republican House Majority Leader, Representative Tom DeLay, who was the keynote speaker at the group’s annual dinner last month.

The foundation contributed nearly $500,000 to CSP between 1987 and 2001 and a total of $300,000 to AEI in 1996 and 2000, apparently to help fund the work of David Wurmser, a Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and the main author of a series of papers that called for the overthrow of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the destabilization of Syria.


Group Contests Casino Owned By Jewish Extremists' Backer
Jim Lobe
Inter Press News Agency (ipsnews.net)
December 8, 2003

While U.S. Treasury officials scour financial records worldwide to stop funds donated by wealthy Arabs from flowing to radical Islamist groups, a small group of U.S. citizens is trying to shut down a major source of funding for Jewish extremists in Israel and the occupied territories.

WASHINGTON, Dec 5 (IPS) - While U.S. Treasury officials scour financial records worldwide to stop funds donated by wealthy Arabs from flowing to radical Islamist groups, a small group of U.S. citizens is trying to shut down a major source of funding for Jewish extremists in Israel and the occupied territories.

Its target is a gambling casino located half a world away in a tiny low-income, mostly Latino town called Hawaiian Gardens, tucked into the urban sprawl of greater Los Angeles.

The Hawaiian Gardens Casino has made tens of millions of dollars for its owner, Irving Moskowitz, a 75-year-old doctor and businessman who moved to Florida more than 20 years ago.

His Irving I. Moskowitz Foundation, which operates a bingo parlour next door, has also produced tens of millions of dollars over the years, most of which it passed to other charities or foundations that support the most extreme elements in the Jewish settlement movement in Israel and the occupied territories, according to records the foundation is required to file with U.S. tax authorities.

The foundation has also provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to right-wing U.S. Zionist groups, particularly the Zionist Organisation of America (ZOA) and Americans for a Safe Israel (ASI), as well as neo-conservative think tanks -- among them the Centre for Security Policy (CSP) and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) -- that were in the forefront of the drive to war in Iraq.

Its contribution to AEI, for example, funded the work of David Wurmser, whose 1999 AEI book, 'Tyranny's Ally', argued that the ouster of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was the key to remaking the Arab Middle East.

Wurmser, who was hired as Middle East advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney in September, acknowledged Moskowitz as his benefactor in the book, which was prefaced by the powerful former chairman of the Defence Policy Board, Richard Perle.

''If you asked most people who Moskowitz is, they would not have any idea,'' CSP director Frank Gaffney declared once at a testimonial dinner for the man whose foundation gave CSP close to half a million dollars between 1987 and 2001. ''His influence is a function of his financial support.''

It is precisely that influence that the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem will try to curb at a hearing in Los Angeles on Dec. 18 of California's Gambling Control Commission. It is slated to decide whether Moskowitz should be granted a permanent license to run his casino, which has reportedly grossed about 180 million dollars a year since it began operating several years ago.

Because the casino is owned directly by Moskowitz, and not, like the bingo hall, by a non-profit foundation, information on the destination of its revenue is not publicly available, although his attorney has suggested in the past that much of it goes to the same causes.

While most license hearings are pro forma affairs, this one is likely to be contentious, as coalition members and supporters, who include Jewish, peace and Latino groups, are lining up to testify why they believe Moskowitz's activities, both in Hawaiian Gardens and in the Middle East, should make him ineligible for a license.

Local activists, including former city officials, charge that Moskowitz has essentially ''hijacked'' the municipal government to build the casino and enrich his business interests at the expense of an impoverished, gang-ridden community, in ways that violate both the letter and the spirit of California's strict gambling laws.

Moskowitz's foes -- who include some two dozen rabbis on the coalition's advisory committee and the predominantly Jewish peace group Americans for Peace Now -- also intend to cite his philanthropic activities for the same basic reasons that the Bush administration is trying to persuade Arab governments to shut down charities that fund radical Islamists.

”Knowing how he has used the bingo money to foster extremism and violence, how can you turn around and give him a casino licence?'' said coalition co-director Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, in an interview.

”When you give someone a licence to run a casino, you're effectively giving him a licence to print money.”

Beliak, who serves two conservative Jewish congregations close to Hawaiian Gardens, referred specifically to several Moskowitz-funded initiatives in Israel and the West Bank, the most deadly of which -- the excavation and 1996 opening of a subterranean tunnel into East Jerusalem's Muslim quarter -- sparked three days of rioting that killed more than 70 people, most of them Palestinian.

Moskowitz and foundations controlled by him have since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war secretly purchased -- often at highly inflated prices -- Arab homes in and around East Jerusalem with the apparent intent of eventually moving in the most militant factions of the settler movement. Similarly, he has bought tracts of property in key zones around the city to cut off its links with Arab areas nearby.

And he has often arranged to move in settlers or begin construction on his properties at particularly sensitive moments in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, precisely in order to inflame tensions between the two peoples, according to his critics.

In addition to any personal money he might have used to acquire these properties, his foundation funnelled some four million dollars between 1993 and 2001 for such purchases to the Miami-based American Friends of Everest Foundation, which Moskowitz also controls, according to summaries of tax documents obtained by the coalition and posted on its website.

Over the same period, he contributed nearly six million dollars from his foundation to the New York-based American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, a particularly militant group that believes Jews should have exclusive control of Jerusalem to rebuild the Old Temple on the site of one of Islam's holiest mosques and perform animal sacrifices there, and also secretly buys and then occupies homes in the Arab quarter.

Moskowitz has also provided millions of dollars to other radical elements of the settler movement that continue to expand their holdings in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

Among them is settlement Beit Hadassah, located in the middle of the West Bank city of Hebron. Its 500 mostly youthful settlers have repeatedly clashed with the Palestinian residents and even the Israeli Army when it has tried to restrain them.

Beit Hadassah is itself closely linked to a much larger settlement on the outskirts of Hebron, Kiryat Arba, the residence of Baruch Goldstein, the U.S.-born settler who massacred 29 Palestinian worshipers at Hebron's mosque in 1994 before being overcome and killed. His grave at Kiryat Arba became a movement shrine.

The residents of another settlement, Beit El, located in a densely populated Palestinian area near Jerusalem, also have a history of clashes with their Arab neighbours, and are led by the current government's minister of tourism, Benny Elon.

Elon, a rabbi who frequently speaks before Christian Right audiences in the United States, is a long-time associate of Moskowitz and one of Israel's most outspoken proponents of ''transfer'' -- moving all Palestinians in ''Greater Israel'' to Jordan and denying citizenship to all those who resist moving.

Most of the millions of dollars that Moskowitz has contributed to the settlement movement have been earmarked for religious schools that are at the centre of community life.

In many ways, a yeshiva, or beit midrash, is the counterpart of the madrassas in the Islamic world that have served as recruitment centres for radical Islamist movements like the Taliban in Afghanistan -- or even al-Qaeda and its offshoots -- in recent years, according to Beliak, who was trained in Israel.

As in the Islamic world, most schools teach a moderate and reflective form of Judaism, while others instruct a far more radical and political vision. Those are the ones that Moskowitz funds, Beliak said.

''Students are taught that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people; that it won't be fertile until Jews are in full control of it, at which point it will respond miraculously to the presence of Jews.”

”Moskowitz is not supporting the people who sit and study; he funds those that are ideologically mobilised, whose students are prepared at any moment to take part in protests and demonstrations, and who think it is their right to uproot olive trees on Arab land, overturn vegetable stands in Arab markets and wreak havoc,'' added Beliak.

To these groups, the Oslo peace process -- indeed, any negotiation that envisages the surrender of territory to the Palestinians -- has been anathema. And it was from one of them that Yigal Amir, the man who assassinated former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, emerged.

Amir was a law student at Bar Ilan University, whose religious studies programme has been funded by Moskowitz.

Moskowitz, who had compared Rabin's policies to European appeasement of the Nazis before World War II, condemned the assassination as ''not good for peace or the Jewish nation'', but reportedly was more ambiguous in a private conversation with a close childhood friend.

Remarkably, in February 2000 Israel's 'Yedioth Aharanot' newspaper traced an Internet assassination ''game'' that invited visitors to ''destroy'' then prime minister Ehud Bartak and other pro-peace Israeli political leaders, to Cherna Moskowitz, Irving's wife and business partner, who also serves as an officer in his foundations.

The game, which was quickly removed after complaints were received, encouraged visitors to click on a leader's picture, which would ''explode'' on the screen, accompanied by the sound of screaming.

To the coalition -- which saved a copy of the game -- and its supporters, such incitement offers further ammunition for their case that the Moskowitzes do not meet California's character requirements. Indeed, they believe the Bush administration should back up their effort.

”If the administration wants to be credible in demanding that Arabs close down charities that fund radical madrassas,'' says Jane Hunter, the coalition's co-director, ''then it should also cut the flow of tax-free U.S. dollars to their Jewish equivalents, the yeshivas that Moskowitz funds”.

2003 design by elbop for the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem