The Torah teaches, "Tzedek tzedek tirdof -- Justice, justice shall you pursue." Why "justice" twice"? This means: Pursue just ends through just means. And this means: Justice at home, justice abroad.
Even among those who ignore this teaching, few have worked out a practice that could be called, "Injustice, injustice shall you pursue": Injustice at home, injustice abroad. Injustice in making money, injustice through spending it.
In 1997, Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak of California and Reena Bernards of Washington, DC, , who has brought together Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish and Arab women to seek peace in the Middle East, brought to the attention of The Shalom Center a remarkable situation, in which it seemed possible that injustice was being pursued by unjust means. The Shalom Center provided them some assistance in encouraging research into this situation. The result follows:
COALITION FOR JUSTICE IN HAWAIIAN GARDENS AND JERUSALEM
The Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem challenges the practices of the California-based Irving Moskowitz Foundation, which
exploits low-income Hispanic immigrants and with the profits subsidizes extreme right-wing Israeli activists seeking to evict Palestinians from their East Jerusalem homes.
The Associated Press reported that on the day after the election of Ehud Barak as Israeli Prime Minister in May, 1999, Dr. Moskowitz's bulldozers precipitated a violent confrontation at the site of Ras al-Amud, a Palestinian neighborhood. CBS's 60 Minutes (aired 12/15/96), reported that in September, 1996, a Moskowitz-funded opening of a tunnel at the Western Wall led to a riot resulting in 70 deaths. We believe that these provocations fuel conflict and jeopardize the Middle East peace process.
Of additional concern are the Moskowitz Foundation's operations in Hawaiian Gardens in Los Angeles county, the smallest municipality in California, with a population under 15,000, many of whom are low-income Hispanic immigrants.
Proceeds from the foundation's "non-profit" Bingo Club enabled it to give away $17 million in 1997, primarily to right-wing Jewish causes. The foundation controls the town through various financial and political strategies. Dr. Moskowitz also owns the Hawaiian Gardens Card Club, an adjacent casino which is being built with local government funds. The casino has the potential to bring an additional $100 million a year to be used to advance Moskowitz's vision of "Greater Israel."
The Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem, comprised of members of Jewish and Latino communities, as well as labor, civil rights, and other groups, has highlighted the following issues, among many, which we believe worthy of investigation by Federal, State and County authorities:
- 1. We believe that the Moskowitz Foundation Bingo Club is a business that circumvents state law on non-profit gambling. California law permits local non-profit organizations to operate Bingo clubs, using volunteers rather than employees. The purpose is to give local community organizations such as churches, synagogues and high schools an opportunity to raise additional fundsfor their community activities. The Moskowitz club generates $58 million in revenues, and is open 363 days a year until 2 A.M.
The Bingo"volunteers," many of whom are recent Mexican immigrants, receive tips in lieu of wages. These people are employees, and any attempt to depict them as volunteers is false. We believe that their working conditions violate the basic rights of employees. Off the backs of these workers, the Moskowitz Foundation distributes millions to settlers on the West Bank, and also uses its donations to neutralize any local opposition to the Moskowitz gambling monopolies in Hawaiian Gardens.
2. The Hawaiian Gardens Card Club is being built with Redevelopment Agency Funds, allegedly in violation of state law which prohibits local agencies from investing public funds in gambling ventures. The California legislature passed the Isenberg Bill in order to prevent local municipalities from investing in the development of casinos. Hawaiian Gardens former City Attorney, Julia Sylva, resigned from office in 1999, claiming that the redevelopment project violates state law, and that continuation of the project puts the city in legal and financial jeopardy.
During the period when Dr. Moskowitz was negotiating the development plan, his attorney served concurrently as special attorney for the Hawaiian Garden's Redevelopment Agency, which has the appearance of an improper conflict of interest. Sylva claims that a full disclosure as to the implications of this arrangement was not made to the Agency Board. In addition, large contributions to the city from Moskowitz-controlled foundations repeatedly arrived in the days just before decisions were reached by the city on crucial redevelopment matters.
Join us in our campaign to call for a full investigation. Help us persuade the California State Attorney General to:
- 1. Close down the Bingo club
2. Deny Dr. Moskowitz a permanent casino license
3. Implement the Isenberg Bill and return much needed funding to the people of Hawaiian Gardens
Please write: Attorney General Bill Lockyer, State of California Department of Justice, Division of Gambling Control, POB 168024, Sacramento CA 95816 -- 916 263-3400.
For more information contact:
COALITION FOR JUSTICE IN HAWAIIAN GARDENS AND JERUSALEM
Funded by The Shefa Fund
Project Coordinator: Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, 9553 West Pico Boulevard, Suite 28, Los Angeles, CA 90035
or Post Office Box 1471, Hawaiian Gardens, CA 90716
Phone: (310) 553-1146 Fax: (310) 286-7109 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Site: www.stopmoskowitz.com