Originally published 27 December 2001
in Las Vegas Review-Journal
activists say the U.S. Treasury is using a double standard when it freezes
the assets of Muslim charities while allowing Israeli groups to operate.
Treasury is "closing a legitimate charitable organization that, as far as
anyone knows, is doing legitimate charitable work," said Aziz Eddebbarh,
spokesman for the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Southern Nevada. "Meanwhile,
we look the other way when people use tax-free money to build illegal settlements
in occupied territory."
Eddebbarh is referring to the Irving I. Moskowitz
Foundation, which is based in Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., near Los Angeles.
With tax-free revenue generated by a bingo club, Moskowitz has bought land
in Arab-dominated East Jerusalem and transferred title to Jewish migrants.
foundation's 1999 tax return shows it donated $340,000 to the American Friends
of Ateret Cohanim, a group that "aspires to renew and bolster the Jewish
presence in the heart of Jerusalem."
"This is occupied land that U.N.
resolutions 242 and 338 called on Israel to withdraw from," Eddebbarh said.
"The money is building Jewish settlements on land that was confiscated from
Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, coordinator of the Coalition
for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem, said he agreed with Eddebbarh.
certainly is a double standard here," Beliak said. "One type of terrorist,
that is an allegedly Muslim terrorist, is not allowed to proceed with feeding
orphans, while another is allowed to buy land and expropriate the lives of
The coalition has crossed swords for years
with leader Irving Moskowitz about his use of his bingo club to fund Jewish
settlements in Jerusalem. The coalition also operates a Web site, www.stopmoskowitz.org, and has called upon California Attorney General Bill Lockyer to revoke the club's license.
The Moskowitz Foundation did not return calls seeking comment.
Holy Land Foundation, one of the Muslim charities shut down by the Treasury
Department, is less forthcoming about its activities on its tax return. According
to its 2000 tax return, the Holy Land Foundation spent $8.6 million to "Establish,
operate and/or contribute to a relief fund for refugees and the indigent
needy." The tax return does not identify the group or groups the Holy Land
Foundation gave financial support to. Its attorney, Khalid Hamideh, did not
return calls seeking comment.
"The premise on which the U.S. government
is acting is that the Holy Land Foundation has been providing for the orphans
of suicide bombers, and that's ludicrous," Eddebbarh said. "If someone is
convicted of a crime here, do we cut off social welfare to them or say to
people, `You can't help their children because they're the descendants of
Eddebbarh noted the United States permits groups like
the Jewish Defense League to operate and raise money, despite that group's
open sympathies with Kahane Chai.
Some U.S. and Tel Aviv officials
consider Kahane Chai, which was organized by followers of slain Rabbi Meir
Kahane, to be on the same moral plane as Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network,
since both groups condone attacks on civilians.
the American government needs to do -- freeze the assets of the JDL and any
affiliated organizations -- but we haven't heard any of that," Eddebbarh
said. "The president said he's going after terrorist organizations and anyone
who supports them, and he needs to follow through."
On Dec. 11, Jewish
Defense League Chairman Irving Rubin was arrested. He is accused of planning
to bomb the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, Calif., and is being held without
Six weeks earlier, the Treasury Department placed Kahane Chai on its list of global terrorist groups.
Bill Maniaci, the Reno-based deputy director of the Jewish Defense League, did not return calls for comment.
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office
of Foreign Assets Control has frozen the American assets of 138 individuals
and groups it considers to be specially designated terrorist groups. Among
these groups are one political party, Kahane Chai or "Kach," and three charities,
the Holy Land Foundation, the Benevolence International Foundation, and the
Global Relief Foundation.
Kahane Chai, aka "Kach" (18 other aliases)
U.S. assets: Unknown
Assets frozen: Oct. 31
Holy Land Foundation
U.S. assets (1999): $1.84 million
Income: (1999): $6.6 million
Assets frozen: Dec. 3
Benevolence International Foundation
U.S. assets (2000): $1.41 million
Income (2000): $3.28 million
Assets frozen: Dec. 14
Global Relief Foundation
U.S. assets (1999): $1.12 million
Income (1999): $4.85 million
Assets frozen: Dec. 14
Some fear crackdown harming poor