Aaron Klein and Yet Another Israeli Far-Rightist

The latest from WorldNetDaily’s Jerusalem correspondent Aaron Klein:

While Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has the past few weeks directed large numbers of Israeli forces to demolish several isolated West Bank Jewish homes deemed illegal, a report newly released here charges Jerusalem’s city hall deleted files documenting hundreds of illegal Arab building projects throughout eastern sections of Jerusalem.

Aryeh King, chairman of the Jerusalem Forum, which promotes Jewish construction in Jerusalem, initiated a state investigation into the deletions, which allegedly took place while Olmert served as mayor of the city. He charged Olmert told senior municipal workers not to enforce a ban on illegal Arab buildings, allegedly saying to them eastern Jerusalem would one day be given to the Palestinians…

Klein goes on to quote King at length, but tells us very little about his background and what his “Jerusalem Forum” really stands for. So time for Google, which brings us to the website of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Back in October they produced a report about settler activity in Palestinian East Jerusalem. Some interesting details:

The settler project is a well-thought-out and deeply dangerous attempt by right-wing Israelis to thwart future peace-plans. Quietly and furtively, Israel’s government is using the settlers to seal up the last loopholes through which peace can conceivably make its way, and is creating significant facts liable to bury the peace process…Several settler associations operate in East Jerusalem: the most notable are Elad, Ateret Cohanim, Atara L’Yoshna, Beit Orot and Shimon Ha’Tzadik…All of them collaborate in a framework known as the Jerusalem Forum, which links up all organisations working to Judaise East Jerusalem, including the Messianic groups hoping to build the Third Temple on the Temple Mount.

ICAHD tells us that the various settler groups enjoy particular patronage from an American businessman, Irwin Moskowitz. He submitted the plans for a yeshiva for Beit Orot, and in

…Ras-al-Amud there is a large complex known as Ma‚aleh Hazayit, extending over 15 dunams, with 132 apartments: the plans were approved in 1998, and the project was financed by Irwin Moskowitz. Aryeh King, Moskowitz’s son-in-law and his personal representative in Israel, is a prominent figure in this context.

…In November 2005 a construction file was opened regarding the Shepherd Hotel which is located in Sheikh Jarrakh, on the road up to Mount Scopus. Again, Irwin Moskowitz is the developer, and the traces lead to Ateret Cohanim.

Moskowitz’s activities, both in the USA and Jerusalem, have been controversial for a while. Back in 1999 the pro-settler news source Arutz-7 published a piece defending him – for some reason the article was reposted a few months ago on the website of Anglicans for Israel, the British lobby group I covered recently. However, that article ignored quite a few facts, which are handily gathered on an unflattering website, www.StopMoskowitz.org. This organisation, of which a number of rabbis and Jewish groups are members, states that it

…has been working since 1998 to stop Irving Moskowitz’s activities in Jerusalem and Hawaiian Gardens, a small, predominantly Latino city in Los Angeles County, California.

In Hawaiian Gardens, Moskowitz operates a bingo hall and owns a casino; he controls the government for the benefit of his gambling operations. In East Jerusalem, he uses profits from those operations to thwart Israeli-Palestinian peace by buying strategically placed Palestinian real estate for Jewish settlers and supporting militant anti-peace organizations.

The site reports such charming details as this:

In February 2000, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonot, discovered an Internet assassination “game” that invited visitors to “destroy” Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak and other moderate, pro-peace Israeli political leaders. It reported tracing the registration of the “especially violent” website to Cherna Moskowitz, Irving Moskowitz’s wife and business partner in the Hawaiian Gardens Casino and other business ventures.

The game encouraged visitors to click on a leader’s picture, which would “explode,” accompanied by the sound of screaming.

There is also a forty-page pdf, which lays out the whole story of Moskowitz’s activities. It includes an anecdote from a 1995 Mother Jones story:

Moskowitz’s defense of [1994 Hebron massacre perpetrator Baruch] Goldstein gives some credence to a report in Mother Jones magazine that suggested he was in favor of the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin. Robert Silverstein told reporter Christopher Cook he had been childhood friends with Moskowitz. Silverstein recounted to Cook part of a conversation he had with Moskowitz soon after Rabin’s assassination, “I said this business with Rabin is too much. Suddenly there was a cold silence. Then he said, “You don’t know all the facts.” Shocked, Silverstein concluded that Moskowitz supported the assassins. Their friendship was at an end.

So, yet again we have Aaron Klein whitewashing far-right, terrorist-supporting Jewish extremists as concerned citizen-activists, for the benefit of his Christian Zionist boss and target readership.

Interestingly, Ateret Kohanim was also behind the recent purchase of various properties in East Jerusalem owned by the Greek Orthodox Church. This understandably upset Greek Orthodox Palestinians, and led to the removal of the Patriarch, Ireneos. Ireneos, however, maintained that he had had nothing to with the sale, which had been arranged by his (now missing) treasurer, Nikolaus Papadimas. Ireneos’ replacement, Theophilos, has used this allegation of fraud to try and derail the deal, provoking howls of rage at WND, both from Klein and from editor Joseph Farah. But now we see for the first time that Klein has cosy chats with the personal representative and son-in-law of the man who has provided the financial muscle for the group that made the purchase. And that this son-in-law works with the various “Temple Mount” Messianic groups for which Klein has also provided whitewashed publicity (see this general survey by Terry Krepel at ConWebWatch).