| Beginnings: Founded in
Ideology: "Reclaiming the Old City on behalf
of the Jewish people," according to its website.
Noted For: A history of inciting violence and destroying
Key Leaders: Joseph D. Frager, Jack Friedler, D.
Bernard Hoenig, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner (head of Ateret Cohanim
Money from Moskowitz's Bingo: $5,625,250 between
1987 and 2001. Moskowitz's donation of $340,000 in 1994
made up more than half of Ateret Cohanim's budget; his $350,000
contribution in 2001 accounted for nearly half of the group's
total funding that year.
Ateret Cohanim runs a religious school and purchases properties
for settlements in Jerusalem. According to American journalist
Robert I. Friedman's book "Zealots for Zion,"
Ateret Cohanim was founded in 1984 to "publish and
distribute material concerning the priesthood (and) functions
of the Temple and to acquire IN ANY MANNER WHATSOEVER and
especially by grant, gift lease or purchase-land, rooms,
or houses (in Arab East Jerusalem.)" Click
here to see a photo from Ian S. Lustick's book, "For
The Land and The Lord" showing the old city, minus
the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa mosques.
Ateret Cohanim is focused on replacing the current religious
shrines - two mosques - the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aksa
- with the re-built third temple. The center of the Yeshiva's
unusual curriculum includes preparing people to resume animal
sacrifices suspended almost 2000 years ago. In addition
to the "tunnel" museum [see below] Ateret Cohanim
trains a para-military gang that is reported to act as its
own private police and security force.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva, wrote
a column in the Jerusalem Report titled "Our great
nation must burn the Road Map!" in which he pleads:
"This land was given to us by the Master-of-the-Universe,
all of it, to the fullest extent of its borders, forever
and ever. It is forbidden to hand over part of it to a foreign
nation, and every step in that direction is null and void."
Aviner has also said that the Israeli army should consider
the death penalty for people who refuse military service
for ideological reasons. "According to the rabbi, such
people could dangerously influence the nation, so the nation
should get rid of them with the most radical measures,"
Pravda Online printed in
On December 12, 1991, armed yeshiva students allied with
Ateret Cohanim forcibly occupied six Arab homes in Silwan,
pushing the occupants into the pounding rain in the dead
of night, clutching copies of their leases and bundles of
clothing. According to some reports, the organization moved
600 settlers into at least 40 buildings in Jerusalem, which
heightened tensions in Arab neighborhoods.
According to a 1995 CBS 60 Minutes report, American Friends
of Ateret Cohanim also is closely linked to the Kotel Heritage
Foundation, the group in charge of the 1996 opening of the
tunnel at the Temple Mount, an act which resulted in rioting
and at least 70 deaths. The midnight tunnel opening event
was stealthily carried out with Irving Moskowitz was one
of the select few in attendance.
A 1998 article in The Jewish Advocate stated Ateret Cohanim's
close relationship with Moskowitz "brought relations
between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian
Authority chairman Yasser Arafat to a point of crisis."
Read articles about Ateret Cohanim:
Cohanim rabbi: 'Gaza is part of the Land of Israel'
Taking Jerusalem by stealth
Organization aiming to make
Jerusalem Jewish again not settling for status quo
Jewish settler group stakes
claims to Arab Jerusalem