News filtered into the Moskowitz home that 120 Jewish relatives had been slaughtered across Eastern Europe. But in Milwaukee, the remnants of the Great Depression pummeled the impoverished family, and to make extra money, the Moskowitz boys had to distribute anti-Semitic pamphlets.

But beyond that, Slater says, the bloodshed washing across Europe didn't appear to trouble Moskowitz. Milwaukee's Jewish community was insular, and faith, though it played a profound role in everyone's life, wasn't conversation fodder. Instead, Moskowitz talked about baseball. His glove, Slater recalls, was always nearby.

Hair greased back, Moskowitz yammered with his buddies at the school lunch table — Cubs this, Yankees that. Later, he became sports editor at the school paper, the North Star, and center fielder on the school baseball team. "He was a fantastic athlete, just a marvelous baseball player," Slater says.

After Israeli settlers moved into the Hamdallah house, they divided their quarters from the Hamdallahs' with barbed wire.
Melanie Lidman
After Israeli settlers moved into the Hamdallah house, they divided their quarters from the Hamdallahs' with barbed wire.
Surrounding the Hamdallahs are several Jewish condominiums in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood.
Melanie Lidman
Surrounding the Hamdallahs are several Jewish condominiums in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood.

At the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a bachelor's degree in letters and science in 1949, Moskowitz hauled in local headlines playing for the baseball team, says friend Mort Klein, now a prominent Zionist in New York. "He once showed me the box scores," Klein says. "He had constant home runs and triples. He was that good."

One day at a Jewish center, Moskowitz spotted a 19-year-old Russian Jew from nearby Racine. Her name was Cherna Shovers. Dark straight hair framed her delicate features. Moskowitz ambled up to the lithe beauty and soon learned Cherna's family too had suffered anti-Semitism. "Every day, I had to leave school five minutes early and run home so other boys wouldn't beat me," recalled her brother, Aaron Shovers, now 85 years old and a retired dentist in Long Beach, California.

In 1950, the year after Moskowitz entered medical school in Madison, the two married at a conservative synagogue called Beth Israel in Milwaukee, according to a report that year in the Milwaukee Sentinel. The couple wasn't long for Wisconsin, though, and after Moskowitz finished his degree, they fled to Los Angeles. Soon, however, their attention turned elsewhere.

In the Mideast, a new Jewish nation wrought from the crumbling British Empire had fallen into a savage Arab-Israeli war. Jordan captured half of Jerusalem and either expelled or butchered virtually every Jew living there. Jerusalem, like Berlin, became a city of lines. Jews across America wondered once again whether their people faced extermination and how they could help.

In those chaotic years, Moskowitz amassed a fortune. First, he opened a successful practice treating patients in Southern California. But his true talents emerged in matters of real estate, and he pulled in millions. All the while, he dispatched increasingly hawkish letters to the Los Angeles Times. In one 1965 missive, he called Egypt a "Mideast Cuba." In another, he wrote: "By now Jews know the code words and phrases used by the Arabs and the apologizers are euphemisms for the destruction of the Jewish state and the completion of Hitler's 'final solution.' No respectable Jew will remain passive today."

In 1967, Israel captured the areas disputed today, including East Jerusalem, in the Six-Day War. Then-retired Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion wrote to Moskowitz and others, urging them to settle the newly conquered areas. "We need more Jews in liberated territories," the letter read.

One of the first settlements sprouted in the city of Hebron, 20 miles south of Jerusalem. To critics, this was a breach of international law: An accord signed at the Fourth Geneva Convention in 1949 held that no nation can "transfer" its own civilian populations into an occupied territory.

But for Moskowitz and many others, Israel embodied something so sacred that international agreements were irrelevant. He became the local president in California of a nationwide group called the Zionist Organization of America. There, he committed himself to growing the Jewish state through settlements in East Jerusalem — envisioned as Palestine's future capital. This helped ignite perhaps the most divisive clash in modern politics.

"In the midst of threats of annihilation, Hitler posted signs 'Work Makes You Free' at the entrance of concentration camps, and Jews were led to their doom by an illusion of 'peace and freedom,' " Moskowitz wrote to the Los Angeles Times before moving to Miami Beach in 1980. "Today the Jews are asked to believe the same illusion. Israel is asked to be 'reasonable' and surrender 'territories for peace.' "

Irving Moskowitz wasn't interested in either.

The Fatah gunmen came for Muhammad Abu al-Hawa on a Wednesday night.

Forty years after the 1967 war, in the water-starved hills 15 miles to Jerusalem's east, the militants tortured the stout 42-year-old father of eight who was known locally for both his brawn and his kindness. Afterward, they shot him six times in the belly and once in the head. Then they pushed al-Hawa's corpse into his Jeep, doused it in gasoline, and struck a match.

Early the next morning, police with the Palestinian authority found his torched corpse on an idyllic Jericho farm nestled among the palm and orange trees. The Fatah militants distributed a note in Jericho: We killed al-Hawa. We will kill any Arab who sells his land to a Jew. Under Palestinian Authority law, which governs the West Bank, it's a capital offense to sell property to Jews. In the past two decades, dozens of Palestinians have been executed secretly — others publicly and legally.

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@Zayd Awadallah South Florida Millionaire Irving Moskowitz's Millions Thwart Middle East Peace

By Terrence McCoy


Anyone who thinks that but for settlements the Palestinians would be in love and peace with Israel must also still believe in the Easter Bunny, that Santa Clause still exists, and that Google is closing Youtube today.

smdrpepper topcommenter

Is there any wonder why the Arab world hates the West so much?  If you want peace in the Middle East, people like this need to stop funding the hatred.  He is no better than the Nazis.