American millionaire and bingo and gambling magnate Irving Moskowitz has dedicated tens of millions of dollars for the building of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, including Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).
"Moskowitz is taking millions from the poorest town in California and sending it to the settlements," Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, one of the Jewish religious leaders in California, has told The Guardian.
The gambling mogul has funneled millions of his profits from the bingo hall in Los Angeles’s Hawaiian Gardens area to finance scores of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestine.
Rabbi Beliak calculates that Moskowitz has given Jewish settlers well over £100 million, beginning with the construction 20 years ago of 133 houses on land confiscated from Palestinians.
"Moskowitz has helped build a hardcore of the settler movement that may number 50-70,000," he maintains.
There are more than 164 Jewish settlements in the West Bank, eating up more than 40 percent of the occupied territory.
The international community considers all Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land illegal.
Moskowitz, an 80-year-old retired doctor, financed Jewish settlements to box in or cut off Palestinian neighborhoods so as to ensure total Israeli control over entire cities.
In Al-Quds, where most of his dollars go, the American Jewish magnate has helped Israel grab land through property purchases and settlements in contested areas.
"What Moskowitz pioneered was trying to break up the continuity of the Arab population centers in Jerusalem," said Rabbi Beliak.
"The consequences are radically different from just mom and pop buying a little piece of land.
"These are political statements and facts on the ground," he stressed.
Israel captured and occupied Al-Quds in the six-day 1967 war, then annexed the holy city in a move not recognized by the world community or UN resolutions.
The city is home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam’s third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Palestinians insist the holy city will be the capital of their future independent state.
In 1996, Moskowitz pressured then premier Benjamin Netanyahu to open a controversial tunnel next to Al-Haram Al-Sharif.
A plaque in the tunnel commemorates Moskowitz, who funded the tunnel’s construction.
In 2000, the project provided the spark that set off the second intifada, when then-premier Ariel Sharon visited the tunnel.
Critics insist Moskowitz has long been adopting an ideologically-driven strategy that has left thousands of Palestinians victimized.
"The loss of many of Moskowitz’s relatives during the Holocaust strengthened his conviction that Israel must be maintained as a safe haven for Jewish people from all over the world," says Rabbi Beliak.
"The money Moskowitz puts in to the settlements has changed the game."
Moskowitz was an outspoken opponent of the removal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip four years ago and provided them with funds to fight the pullout.
Not only settlements.
The American Jewish right-winger has also given tens of millions of dollars over the past decade to finances virulently anti-Arab Jewish seminaries.
Some of these seminaries are affiliated with Jewish terror groups banned in Israel and the United States.
He has opposed the Oslo peace accords, likening them to the appeasement of the Nazis.
Over the years Moskowitz has made no secret of his hostility toward the Palestinians.
He has defended his activities in interviews with and letters to major newspapers, often using World War II-related themes to make his points.
(IslamOnline.net and Agencies)