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Newsdesk August 27, 2004

Moskowitz Gets License

The California Gambling Control Commission last week granted controversial philanthropist Irving Moskowitz a permanent license for his casino in the city of Hawaiian Gardens. Both Moskowitz’s casino and bingo hall in the small, impoverished town near Los Angeles have long been the subject of intense criticism from a coalition of Jewish peace activists. These critics have drawn attention to Moskowitz’s use of proceeds from the bingo parlor to fund right-wing settler groups in Israel.

In hearings before the gambling commission over the last eight months, former employees of Moskowitz have complained about the casino’s labor practices and its detrimental effect on the community in Hawaiian Gardens. Last week, Los Angeles Times reported that seven former employees of the casino have alleged that it is the site of a loan-sharking operation. Moskowitz has been defended by members of the Hawaiian Gardens city council, who have pointed to the profits that flow into the city coffers from the casino and bingo hall.

The four gambling control commissioners voiced concern that Moskowitz did not have sufficient control over activities at his casino. Three of the commissioners voted to give Moskowitz a permanent license on the condition that he take a number of measures toward making the casino’s business practices more transparent. The fourth commissioner abstained from the vote, making reference to unresolved grand jury proceedings that allegedly have dealt with Moskowitz and his gambling establishments.

JDate IPO Nixed

MatchNet, the company that runs the Jewish Internet dating Web site, withdrew its plans over the weekend for an initial public offering on Wall Street, citing unfavorable market conditions for Internet-related IPOs. At the same time, MatchNet,announced that Todd Tappin, who served as CEO, president and a director for only the past six months, would be stepping down and that 40 staffers were being laid off.

Founded in 1997, JDate has, according to the company, more than 1 million users.

Antisemitism Slammed

Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed a petition opposing antisemitism and pledged that his country would support such a resolution at the United Nations. He made the commitment at a meeting last week in Brasilia with a delegation led by Rabbi Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress; Jack Terpins, president of the Latin American Jewish Congress, and Rabbi Henry Sobel, religious leader of Brazil’s largest synagogue.

The Brazilian pledge comes just weeks after New Zealand lawmakers unanimously condemned vandals who wrecked Jewish gravestones in two cemeteries and torched a Jewish prayer house in recent weeks.

Security Upped in Paris

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe announced Monday that security would be stepped up at Jewish institutions in the capital, following the arson of a Jewish social center during the weekend.

Delanoe said that additional video surveillance cameras would be installed at buildings frequented by the Jewish community, and that he would ask the city council to increase its security budget by a third to protect Jewish institutions. Security systems would be improved around Jewish nurseries, schools, synagogues and old-age homes, Delanoe said in a statement. In addition, a campaign will be launched early next month to sensitize citizens to fight antisemitism, racism and discrimination. Large banners announcing the campaign are to be placed on municipal buildings starting September 1.

According to police sources, the fire at the Rue Popincourt Center in Paris’s 11th District was started early Sunday and destroyed the center, which was located on the ground floor of a five-story building. The center, which housed a community soup kitchen, was unoccupied at the time of the attack. Police found antisemitic inscriptions on two refrigerators in the building, as well as a burned-out motor scooter, which they believe to be the source of the suspected arson. French President Jacques Chirac condemned the attack.

Israel praised France for fighting antisemitic attacks on its citizens, but said that more action was needed. “We are very happy that France is now leading the combat against antisemitism, but we would like to see it translated to actions in schools and universities,” Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Tuesday during a visit to the torched community center.

Experts believe that Jews in Europe are increasingly being targeted by local Muslim youth who have been swayed by anti-Israel propaganda. French officials vowed to crack down.

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