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Gambling with peace: how US bingo dollars are funding Israeli settlements

20 July 2009

LOS ANGELES, California -- As reported by The Guardian: "For the winning punters chancing their luck at Hawaiian Gardens' charity bingo hall in the heart of one of California's poorest towns, the big prize is $500. The losers walk away with little more than an assurance that their dollars are destined for a good cause.

"But the real winners and losers live many thousands of miles away, where the profits from the nightly ritual of numbers-calling fund what critics describe as a form of ethnic cleansing by extremist organisations.

"Each dollar spent on bingo by the mostly Latino residents of Hawaiian Gardens, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, helps fund Jewish settlements on Palestinian land in some of the most sensitive areas of occupied East Jerusalem

"...Over the past 20 years, the bingo hall has funnelled tens of millions of dollars in to what its opponents — including rabbis serving the Hawaiian Gardens area — describe as an ideologically-driven strategy to grab land for Israel, as well as contributing to influential American groups and thinktanks backing Israel's more hawkish governments.

"But the bingo operation, owned by an American Jewish doctor and millionaire, Irving Moskowitz, has taken on added significance in recent weeks as President Barack Obama has laid down a marker to Israel in demanding an end to settlement construction, which the White House regards as a major obstacle to peace.

"'Moskowitz is taking millions from the poorest town in California and sending it to the settlements,' said Haim Dov Beliak, a rabbi serving Hawaiian Gardens and one of the Jewish religious leaders in California who have campaigned to block the flow of funds to the settlers.

"...Beliak calculates that the foundation has given Jewish settlers well over £100m.

"...Beliak is particularly angered that the fundraising takes place without interference from the American authorities..."

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