Late PLO Leader Yasser Arafat invested $1.3 million in an upscale Manhattan bowling alley that billed itself as an ideal spot for Bar Mitzvahs and Jewish teenagers, prompting the owner of the company, who said he learned of the investment yesterday, to return the funds.
Arafat, who died last month, made the investment in New York City’s Bowlmor Lanes through a holding company he created called Onyx Funds, Bloomberg Markets Magazine reported.
The alley caters to Jewish customers and organizations, including Yeshiva University, Ramaz High School and local branches of the National Council for Synagogue Youth, among others. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who once famously kicked Arafat out of a dinner party, calling him a “terrorist,” is also a regular customer at the alley.
Thomas Shannon, chief executive of Strike Holdings which owns Bowlmor Lanes, denied having known about the investment before the Bloomberg report and said he immediately made a decision to return the money even though the company will “take some pain personally” as well as financially.
Shannon said the investment was coordinated by a former classmate, Zeid Masri, managing partner of SilverHaze Capital, a Virginia-based investment firm.
“My relationship with Mr. Masri is over,” Shannon said.
“We don’t choose to be affiliated with any political-based organization, especially one that may or may not have ties to things we find absolutely abhorrent,” he said.
Several Jewish customers expressed outrage.
“If I had known, I wouldn’t have come, but I promised the kids,” Steve Saslow, 55, told the New York Daily News.
“It’s sick we paid money to hold events there,” Miriam Gerber, a leader of NCSY, told WorldNetDaily. “Jewish money went to help Arafat and his terrorism against Israel.”
Arafat’s estate is said to be worth hundreds of millions or possibly billions, mostly from money Israel says he secretly shifted to bank accounts in his name by allegedly plundering financial aid sent to help a battered West Bank and Gaza economy over the years.
Forbes calculated Arafat, who came in sixth behind Queen Elizabeth II in a list of wealthy world leaders, had a net worth of $300 million. Some Israelis believe Arafat’s personal wealth may be as much as $11 billion, although in testimony to the Knesset last year Israel’s chief of military intelligence, Aharon Zeevi, listed Arafat’s personal assets at more than $1.3 billion.