Even his synagogue, Beth Israel in Miami Beach, couldn't provide any method to message Moskowitz. In the past decade, he has donated nearly $50,000 to the temple. But on a recent Friday afternoon, more than a dozen Jews streaming inside for the early Sabbath service say they either haven't seen him in years — or ever. "Irving Moskowitz?" says one stooped and balding man who declines to offer his name. "Never heard of him. Must not be religious, 'cause he never comes here."

Across the street at Temple Beth Sholom, Rabbi Gary Glickstein, energetic and affable, ponders the name over a steamed latte. "Really, Irving Moskowitz is a mystery," says Glickstein, one of the most prominent Jews in the city. "I've never seen him in Miami, and I've never seen him in Israel. I don't know anyone who knows him, and I've been a rabbi here for 27 years."

Once, you could spot him walking his Doberman pinscher along the roads of Miami Beach, says close family friend Gloria Bierman. Or you might glimpse him sitting outside his wife's Lincoln Road Judaica shop, the Carefully Chosen, on a Saturday night. But in the past 13 years, he hasn't given one interview and has restricted how often he's in public.

Irving Moskowitz, 85, hasn't been seen publicly in years, but his influence reverberates across Israel.
Wikimedia Commons / Mazel123
Irving Moskowitz, 85, hasn't been seen publicly in years, but his influence reverberates across Israel.
The Shepherd Hotel in Jerusalem once housed a Muslim spiritual leader in Jerusalem. Moskowitz bought it in 1985 and tore it down earlier this year.
Wikimedia Commons
The Shepherd Hotel in Jerusalem once housed a Muslim spiritual leader in Jerusalem. Moskowitz bought it in 1985 and tore it down earlier this year.

Part of this reticence is born of fear, says Bierman, who once owned an art gallery (also named the Carefully Chosen) with Cherna Moskowitz in the Design District. "You can't be naive and think [donating like the Moskowitzes] isn't a dangerous thing," Bierman says. "It's a very dangerous thing to do."

But Irving Moskowitz's disappearance also reflects that today, the element that carried him from the slums of Milwaukee to worldwide notoriety — his intellect — is gone. "Irving will be the longest-lived Alzheimer's victim of all time," brother-in-law Aaron Shovers says. "The mistake he made was he didn't think about shooting a bullet into his head when he could have done it. He's suffered for 20 years, and now he's just a plant in the corner."

While he's deteriorated, Moskowitz, whose foundation today has $47 million, remains influential on both sides of the ocean. In 2012, he plunged $1 million into Karl Rove's super PAC, American Crossroads. And his son David, one of eight Moskowitz children, manages the gambling operations in California, every year sinking millions more into the foundation — likely ensuring Moskowitz's mission to secure Israel won't die with him.

In Israel, the issue of settlements continues to roil the country. Although President Obama said last week that Palestine "deserved" a unified state, there's little chance of that. Excluding East Jerusalem, more than 360,000 Jews now live in the West Bank; 30,000 were added in 2012 alone. Jewish settlers control 42 percent of all territory in the West Bank, according to a 2010 B'Tselem study, though they've built on only 1 percent of the land.

Even with the recent and surprising rise of the centrist Yesh Atid Party, which captured 19 Knesset seats in January's national elections, there's consensus among analysts that relations with Palestine won't change.

Settlement growth has transformed the Palestinian national movement. Dimitri Diliani, the scruffy Palestinian activist who protested against Moskowitz and the destruction of the Shepherd Hotel years ago, says a day will soon arrive when Palestine abandons its call for a two-state solution. Rather than pushing independence — it'll demand equity. "We want civil rights," he says.

But while Palestine writhes under occupation, far away on a recent morning, all was quiet at Irving Moskowitz's mansion. Inside, a group of friends had just arrived for a visit. Irving, now 85, sat in the courtyard enjoying the midmorning sun. He wore slacks, a cream-colored button-down, and a yarmulke, Bierman remembers.After a moment, Moskowitz rose and walked slowly across the courtyard. As Cherna followed a few paces behind, he sang an old Hebrew song, sun on his face, and clapped his hands.

Melanie Lidman and Gil Kezwer contributed reporting from Jerusalem. Ali Stack contributed research.

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30 comments
Carol
Carol

Terrence McCoy's lengthy piece is full of half-truths, errors and omissions.The article's subtitle absurdly implies that Palestinians would have had a state if it hadn't been for the settlements and the support of the Moskowitz family. The truth is that the Palestinian Authority was offered 95% of the disputed territory, including parts of Jerusalem, multiple times, and they turned it down.The Palestinian Authority has never officially removed its call for Israel's destruction from its charter; their leaders refuse to accept Israel as a Jewish state, and the entire map of Israel, minus Israeli cities, is used to designate “Palestine.”Other pre-conditions to peace negotiations were imposed by Palestinian leaders, such as demanding the "right of return" which could potentially flood Israel with an estimated 5,000,000 Arabs (over 10 times the approx. 472,000 Arabs who fled during the 1948 British Mandate), thus making Jews a minority within Israel. Unlike these refugees, for whom the UN set up a separate refugee organization, UNWRA, approximately 850,000 Jews who were forced to flee Arab lands after having their citizenship stripped (some communities dated back 2500 years), leaving behind their homes, businesses and property, were never given proper recognition or compensation.Many of the properties purchased by the Moskowitz family were previously owned by Jews before the land was taken over by Jordan following the war of 1948.The Arab League, led by Qatar, recently announced that they intend to invest US$1 billion to explore Islamic roots in Jerusalem. Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have poured millions of dollars into buying up property all over Israel, something McCoy should have pointed out.Meanwhile, Jordan, with a Palestinian Arab majority, denies them self-determination. And the other 21 Arab states refuse to allow Palestinian Arabs to become citizens.While approximately 1.2 million of Israel's citizens are Arab (with full citizenship rights and privileges and representation in the Israeli Knesset [Parliament], a future Palestinian Arab state would be completely free of Jews, as stated by their foreign minister and all official government declarations. I can’t think of a more blatant form of discrimination and apartheid.In writing a truthful article about Dr. Irving Moskowitz and his wife, Cherna, it behooves the author to balance his report with mention of the wonderful benefits the Moskowitz family has bestowed on so many Israelis who have enjoyed their philanthropy. Painting a picture that draws sympathy for Husseini, the Arab Nazi who worked with Hitler, rather than devoted Zionists like the Moskowitz family who have contributed so much to Israel and America, is mean-spirited and destructive. McCoy should lend his talents to some positive purposes.

doug
doug

Your article titled "Home Invasion" is full of half truths and falsehoods starting with your story about the Shefer Hotel. Check your facts: Far from being destroyed, the home of al-Husseini has been declared a "historical" site and remains totally intact.

mglassman
mglassman

I am fortunate enough to live in Old City of Jerusalem and work at the Jerusalem Heritage House. The support the Moskowitz Family gives to our community here is incredible! Is there something wrong with Jews helping other Jews in Jerusalem? great family, stupid and extremely biased article!

jacksjunkyard
jacksjunkyard

So I attempted to read this article to see if i could learn more about the situation in the Middle East. After 6 pages, the only conclusion I've been able to make is that this paper must pay its writers by the word. How is this a cover story?

lisette30
lisette30

This article is saying that Moskowitz is stealing land from Palestine. Palestine was created, true, but it still wasn't an independant palestinian muslim state, it was controlled by the british. In history, there was never an independant palestinian muslim state and nobody can deny that.About biblical times, there was none also. There was a kingdom of Israel for about 1000 years, then the roman occupiers came and changed the name to Palestine and expulsed the jewish population. Then, for about 1600 years, there was never an independant palestinian state to replace it, it's as if the land that G.od promised to the hebrews could not be given to anyone else (a miracle that lasted 1600 years !). Had there be a non-jewish state in 1948, Israel could have never been created. Yes, there was different empires that controlled the palestinian region: Byzantine, Persian, Umayyads, Abbasids, Crusaders, ottoman, british. But they never made it as an independant country.

OSO
OSO

What a joke of an article. This article represents the new Anti-Semitism. "No I dont hate the Jews, I just hate Israel". To blame the lack of peace in Israel on an old Philanthropic Jew that makes charitable contributions to Israel is a total sham. The author that wrote this slanted and pathetic article should be ashamed unless it was his clear intention to mislead. No mention of the fact that Israel was attacked over an over by their Arab neighbors with an intention to destroy it. No mention of the rejection of peace offer after peace offer, even up to the Oslo peace accords where Arafat said "No" to half of Jerusalem the west bank and Gaza. No mention of the years of terror attacks and rocket attacks that continue to this day that have caused the separation of the two people. This article shows that even in the USA, the undercurrent of Anti semitism is alive and kicking. Shame on the Miami New Times for not fact checking and allowing this article to be printed.Edit (6 minutes)

Goodpita
Goodpita

Short observation here: Obama and UN condemn settlements but that's no surprise. What's fascinating are these groups like J street and Americans for Peace Now, which are comprised of Israeli public figures, scholars, rabbis, and loads of Jewish Americans. I'm sure everyone here knows about these groups' anti-settlement, 2-state advocating agenda, but what makes these groups prevail in DC? No reason to get angry when such groups are brought up, but it often happens in message boards like this one. It appears that Jews on this issue are of differing consciences- will Jews and Israelis ever be on the same page with respect to mid-east peace?

BenPacker
BenPacker

As a resident of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House, I cannot express how much gratitude I have to the Moskowitz Family for all they have done for Jerusalem. My guests, my neighbors, my family and myself are the recipients of the generosity and vision of the Moskowitz family on a daily basis! Jerusalem has benefitted tremendously from their support and ridiculous, mean-spirited articles like this nonsense won't change that!!!

Drptl
Drptl

Dear Editor,

I read the recent article South Florida Millionare Thwarts Middle East Peace of March 28, 2013.

I had to reread the article to double check my astonishment, that an article containing so many untruths and biases could actually be printed.

Where do I start? Lets start at the beginning.

Let's discuss the Shepherd hotel. Contrary to the authors claim, the building is neither a Palestinian heritage or a biblical site ( a biblical site, please, the villa was built in the early 1900s ). It was built for the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, an anti Semite, and a confidant of Adolph Hitler, who never even lived there. The site is a piece of property bought and sold like any piece of property anywhere else. And after many years of frivolous court challenges, the Israeli Supreme Court, not known as a friend of who you call the Settlers, decided that it was legally purchased by Dr. Irving Moskowitz, who could do whatever he wanted, with his property.

And it is because of a single individual in Miami Beach that there is no peace in the Middle East?

The last time I checked, I was told there is no peace because the Palestinian Authority refuses to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish State, that the PA continues to honor the memory of terrorists and suicide bombers, that the textbooks in all PA schools, starting from the earliest grades, teach that Jihad against the Jews is the ultimate religious experience, etc. There is no peace in the Middle East because the Palestinians hate the Jews more than they love their own lives. If I recall correctly, Israeli Prime Ministers Olmert and Barak offered the PA more than 97% of the West Bank and half of Jerusalem, and the offer was rejected. Dr. Moskowitz was not a factor.

Dr. Moskowitz's endeavors in Israel have given young Israeli couples places to live, to raise a family. And for that, he is respected. Your writer derides Dr. Moskowitz because he single handed, boosted the Jewish population in greater Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, (yes, those areas are true biblical landmarks) from 10,000 to half a million. I wish I could credit Dr. Moskowitz for that growth, but, lets be honest, no one person can be responsible for such 500% growth. And no group of individuals could imagine such growth without full support of the Israeli government.

Why is it that the author blames Dr. Moskowitz for the death of an Arab who indirectly sold him a piece of property in "East" Jerusalem? Why doesn't your author do an exposé on the Palestinian Authority law that says its a capital offense to sell property to Jews? And your author writes, "in the past two decades, dozens if Palestinians have been executed secretly, others publically and legally". Where is the international outcry, where is the UN, where are all the human rights organizations? To execute someone "legally" because he sold land to a Jew? And to blame Dr. Moskowitz for the poverty status of that Arab's family? Where is the International Red Cross, and all those outspoken human rights groups? Where is all the billions of dollars in aid that the United States and European Union countries have given to the Palestinian people?

Then there is Hawaiin Gardens and the bingo clubs.

Have your readers been to that small town, I have. Dr. Moskowitz and his bingo clubs are the biggest supporters of the local service organizations, local health organizations, after school programs, and the list continues. The bingo clubs account for the majority of the taxes in the city; without Dr. Moskowitz one cannot even imagine what the city would look like, if it would still exist at all. The typical resident of Hawaiin Gardens is beholden to the charity and good heart of Dr. Moskowitz in areas the residents don't even realize. And the knowledgeable Hawaiin Gardens city official is very appreciative of Dr. Moskowitz's contributions to their city.

Your author seems to have dug up, from the graveyards of history, individuals who became involved in the anti Moskowitz campaign.

The people behind the stopMoskowitz website are such people. Your author should do an expose on them and their endeavors. Who paid them all those years, who underwrote their organization, where have they been for the last decade, etc. I suggest the answers would put serious doubt on their credibility.

And with regard to Dr. Moskowitz and family, they are well known in their community. Well known and well respected. They have many friends and have many visitors.

They are beloved by many Americans and many Israelis. They just have a different definition of Zionism than your writer does, a definition respected by many of us.

kitkat945
kitkat945

Historians say that peace talks between Arafat, Clinton and Barak failed, not because of the settlements, but because the Palestinians didn't want to give up the right of return. The settlements were not a problem because Israel wanted to retain the major settlement blocks and give the Palestinians the same surface as these settlements inside Israel and palestinians agreed with that. But, the right of return for the Palestinians meant that millions of Palestinians worldwide could flood Israel and as a result, Israel would have a Muslim majority. This would have been a 2 state solution with 2 states muslim in majority. Then, the talks between Olmert and Abbas failed, not because of the settlements, but because of the right of return. Today, in 2013, the Arabs STILL want two Muslim states. In addition, most of the populations in United States (including you, Terrence McCoy) and Europe doesn't understand why the Middle East peace process cannot succeed because of this right of return. So, instead of a caricature showing a star of David stealing a house, why not show a cross hiding the truth ?
Also, hardly anyone (except the Jews) knows that there was more Jewish refugees from Arab countries than Palestinian refugees worldwide.

ToughJuice
ToughJuice

New Times I applaud your mostly fair article but to blame a jew for preventing peace by helping other jews own property in Israel the Jewish homeland is ridiculous. Deep in your article is almost hidden the fact that the punishment for selling land to a jew is DEATH, yes death, and you support the "rights" of "Palestinian government" or people to KILL their own for selling land to a jew? Moskowitz has given millions to charity in the U.S. as well as in Israel and instead of giving the philanthropist credit you brand him as an extremist. What about the people who actually do the killing, aren't they to blame equally if not more? Also hidden in your article is the fact that he suffers from Alzheimer's, how would you feel if it was your parent who had the disease and NT was accusing them of being a recluse and refusing to comment on this article, I think someone of his age and condition deserves respect and privacy! I think your article was fair but it gives way too many uninformed people ammunition for hate. Good article BUT how would you feel if it was your ill parent being asked for a comment on this article? or if your landlord was killed for renting to you? Probably not so good?

moalta
moalta

The ugly side of American capitalism is exposed once more. How tragic. This American has the values of those who directed the holocaust against Jews in Europe. I am shocked and dismayed.

ilanakrauss
ilanakrauss

The writer of this biased artcle, Terrence McCoy, is the torch himself. Moskowitz is not even close to be the reason for the 'unrest' in the Middle Esat, but arcticles like this, spreading lies and using words like 'aparthaid' are. YOU ARE BEING USED by palestinian propaganda to spread the HATE that arabs in general (and not just only palestinians) have 'institutionalized' against the jewish people and against the jewish Estate. 

A TWO ESTATE SOLUTION will be possible the day Arabs STOP FUELLING HATE through the palestinians and ACCEPT the right to exist of the jewish people and its historical and legal right to their land, Israel - jewish people are prepared to share the land - in the sake of real peace.

If there is a settlement in any disputed land, good for the part that will inherit it already improved via diplomatic negotiations. Once the real 'aparthaid' enforcers become educated enough, and reasonable enough to realize that other people with other religions, colors and life styles have the right to exist, PEACE will be POSSIBLE for it is at reach.




John
John

It's called paid propaganda not journalism.

miami_resident
miami_resident

It is heartbreaking what this man is doing to the peace process. The story about Hamdallah's house literally being invaded is sickening. Israel needs to stop its apartheid and listen to the demands of the international community (the UN, EU, and US have all demanded it stop its illegal settlements) before it gets more and more isolated.

yisrael.medad
yisrael.medad

I recall the telephone interview (my description by Terence is from a photograph btw, as we never met).  His questions seemed to reveal not only a strong animosity but a pretend ignorance.  I would suggest there was also non-pretend ignorance since I moved to Israel in 1970 from Queens NY.  I last lived in The Bronx in 1954.  Just two comments.

a) This claim: "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."   This is misconstrued.  In any case, since thousands of Jews lived in the area that Israel administers beyond its sovereign borders prior to 1948, at which time they were ethnically cleansed, and that area was originally to become the territory of the Jewish National Home as per the international law of the League of Nations in 1922, that "crime" of "transfer of population" is completely non-applicable.

b)  As for this claim, that Moskowitz money is "supporting the elimination of Palestine", let's be clear, there is no "Palestine" and there never was, as a geo-political entity.  If there is an Arab Palestine, it is Jordan, which was part of the Mandate area.  To be fair, I will go on record as saying that the creation of such a state would be a great security danger for Israel, would undermine regional stability, would continue to oppress its own population as well as cojoin with terror groups either Iran-supported or al-Quaida oriented.  Nothing truly positive could develop.

jinj
jinj

Which planet is this writer on? Does anyone really believe that MidEast piece hinges on Jews building homes  and not on Israel's neighbors who don't even acknowledge her right to exist?

dantevida
dantevida topcommenter

It is time suspend the $billions in annual US aid to Israel until they halt settlements in desputed territory, It is blatantly illegal and against US policy.

basurero
basurero

how is this the cover of your magazine? you cant attach an entire religion to the settlements. and how can you even begin to care about the middle east when your coverage is so spare? and to publish this the week of passover? you guys are such a journalistic nightmare.

basurero
basurero

its shocking that you'd run this garbage. then again, it's also not.

dantevida
dantevida topcommenter

@kitkat945 The settlements continue contrary to US policy and in the face of American presidents and secretaries of state requesting them to stop.  Why should the US continue to provide $billions in aid to a nation that flaunts our policies.  Stop US aid to Israel until illegal settlements in disputed territory ceases.  An interesting article would be where our $billions in annual aid to Israel end up. 

limpindrummer
limpindrummer

Not exactly!  The right of return and two arab states is not the final solution that the arabs seek.  It is only the next step.  The final solution is the annihilation of the Nation of Israel and the extermination of the Jews.  That is the arab's express policy, and, it has never changed. 

The notion that one American Jew, who bought some real estate in Israel and elects to demolish it, is the barrier to peace in Israel is the epitome of yellow journalism. 

limpindrummer
limpindrummer

You have no idea what you're talking about. 

This has nothing to do with American capitalism, ugly as it is.  It has to do with the rabid, religious hatred that arab muslims have for Jews.  Religious hatred so bitter that they indescriminately fire rockets in to civilian Israeli neighborhoods (a war crime), for the purpose of murdering civilian Jews, from among their own women and children who they use as human shields (another war crime), and, who brainwash their own children to harbor such rabid religious hatred of Jews (who they are trained to refer to as "apes and pigs"), that they willingly blow themselves to pieces just for the opportunity to murder a few Jews.

Say again, whose values are more like those who directed the Holocaust?

dantevida
dantevida topcommenter

@ilanakrauss Oh, please-the Palestinian propaganda machine?  The Israeli's have institutionalized settlement of disputed territory, thus becoming targets of Palestinian rage, not to mention being contrary to US policies.   Why can't they be content to exist without the continutd displacement of Palestinians.  The US should withhold the $billions in annual aid to Israel until the illegal settlements cease.

miami_resident
miami_resident

@basurero i don't think the author ever blames all Jews or Judaism for the settlements; he's very clear when he mentions Moskowitz and right wing groups as the problem.

kitkat945
kitkat945

@dantevida @kitkat945 Even if the settlements stopped growing, peace would be impossible as long as palestinians persist in asking for the right of return, which means the end of Israel as a jewish state. From 1948 to 1967, Egypt controlled Gaza and Jordan controlled the West Bank. Why didn't they give Gaza and the West bank to their muslim palestinian brothers ? Because in history, a palestinian muslim state never existed. The only ones who were offering a state to the palestinians were not muslim but jewish and this happened in 2000 with Ehud Barak, and later with Ehud Olmert. But the palestinians refused because they were more interested in the end of Israel as a jewish state. So Obama is smarter that you, he understands that the settlements are not the main obstacle to the peace process.

ilanakrauss
ilanakrauss

@dantevida @ilanakrauss WITH or WITHOUT settlements, the Jewish people and Estate ARE the TARGET of Palestinian rage - for the mere reason they insist to exist...

dantevida
dantevida topcommenter

@kitkat945 @dantevida you need to review your history.  after WWI  Palestine was created under the British Mandate and existed until 1948 when there was an attempt to partition Palestine which failed and finally resulted in the Arab/Israeli war.  The area occupied by "Palestinians" also goes back to biblical times and earlier.  Obama, by the way has called for a halt to illegal settlements in disputed territories.

 
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