Edward Moskal

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Edward Moskal (May 21, 1924 – March 22, 2005) was a longtime and outspoken president of the Polish National Alliance (PNA) and the Polish American Congress (PAC).[1]

Early life, awards, honors, and death[edit]

Moskal was born to a Polish immigrant couple who owned restaurant and catering businesses. Chicago's St. John Cantius School, which focused on the children of Polish Catholic immigrants,[2] provided his education. He became an insurance broker and completed a three-year tour in the U.S. Army before joining the PNA in 1942.

His 60-plus-year career with PNA led him to a private meeting with Pope John Paul II, several humanitarian-related trips to Poland, and an appointment by United States President Bill Clinton to accompany Vice President Al Gore at the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising anniversary ceremonies in Warsaw.

Poland's President Lech Wałęsa awarded him the second highest civilian honor of the Republic of Poland, the Commander's Cross with Star. He was also made an honorary citizen of the city of Kraków, Poland. The title of Honorary Doctor was bestowed upon him by the University of Poznań Medical School in 1997.

Edward Moskal died on March 22, 2005, aged 80, in Chicago. He suffered from Diabetes, and succumbed to complications after a long period of illness. Over the 2 day Wake and Mass, the Church of St. John Cantius, where he was a lifetime member, reported that over 3000 people paid their respects.[1]

Polish National Alliance (PNA) and Polish American Congress (PAC)[edit]

PAC, an umbrella organization of 1,200 Polish-American fraternal, veteran and cultural groups, was established in May 1944 by a large Congress of Polonia in which nearly 2,300 delegates participated representing various Polish and Polish-American organizations.[3] The main goal of the PAC was to help Poland in its struggle for independence by lobbying the US government.

The Congress elected Karol Rozmarek as the first president of the PAC.[3] Under his leadership PAC was the Polish lobby. He was succeeded in 1968 by Aloysius Mazewski,[3] who continued this tradition.

Moskal becomes PNA treasurer[edit]

The treasurer of Polish National Alliance from 1967, Moskal always opposed Mazewski, and PAC was at the center of their disagreements. Moskal believed that PAC and PNA should go their separate ways because the PAC cost PNA too much. Some members objected to Moskal's elaborate wining and dining of the last Polish communist counsel general in Chicago, Czerwinski, a rumored secret police [SB] agent. Many PAC members were annoyed with Mazewski when he stated that Moskal, elected by All-Polonia Congress as treasurer, had a mandate to dine with whom he pleased.

Moskal becomes PNA and PAC president[edit]

Moskal was elected president of both PNA and PAC in 1988,[4] and left the position of teasurer.

Moskal did not separate the PNA from PAC as he had previously suggested, and instead took over the function of the president of this political arm of Polonia.

During this nearly 20-year period, smaller Polish American fraternal groups merged with the PNA, which had already become the largest ethnic fraternal organization in the United States. The PNA began broadcasting by radio station WPNA (1490 AM) in the Chicago area. Determined to secure the financial independence and growth of the PNA, he expanded the interests to the organization to include banking institutions under the name of Alliance FSB with branches in Niles and Chicago, Illinois. He instituted a complete computerization of the Home Office in Chicago. Constantly interested in keeping current with modern trends, he led the PNA into the new world of Internet communications with the creation of a website and widespread e-mail correspondence.

Independence for Poland and decision on the fate of PAC[edit]

The forming goal of PAC, independence for Poland, was accomplished in 1989/1990. The members and leadership were faced with deciding whether or not to continue the PAC with a new goal, or to abandon it. NATO enlargement to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic was deemed a worthwhile.

NATO Enlargement[edit]

President George Bush Sr. supported enlargement. The Democrat who followed, Bill Clinton, did not focus on foreign policy during his first term and was ambivalent about the cause.

Moskal and representatives of the Czech and the Hungarians ethnic groups called on the US to support NATO enlargement. As elections were close and the votes of these ethnic groups could decide if Clinton would be elected to a second term, their argument was persuasive, and Clinton expressed his support for NATO enlargement. This in itself did not make NATO enlargement a reality. The act had to be ratified in the Senate with 2/3 of the vote (67).

Controversial actions and positions[edit]

Ideological concerns[edit]

Some PAC activists became ideologically worried about Moskal. One of those concerned was Kazimierz Lukomski, vice president and head of the Commission for Polish Affairs, for years the "soul" of all major initiatives involving Poland. Moskal began to push Lukomski aside and undertake decisions without consulting the Commission for Polish Affairs, even neglecting to notify it of his decisions.

Accusations of Communist sympathies[edit]

In a letter to Jan Krawiec dated May 28, 1991, Lukomski rationalizing his decision to resign as Vice president of PAC and the Commission for Polish Affairs wrote: "Moskal treats the PAC just as he does the Polish National Alliance as his private fiefdom. I refuse to accept that and at the same time I do not have any means of opposing his misdeeds. Apart from few very narrow instances; I am shoved aside here in Chicago. Moskal is able to pull to his side everyone, along with our independents, who no longer care that he supports diplomats of the communist regime like Czerwinski, or sings songs of praise to General Wojciech Jaruzelski."

Accusations of anti-Semitic views[edit]

At the beginning of 1996 Moskal wrote a letter to then Polish president Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Moskal was critical of Jewish influence, criticizing Poland's alleged vassalage with regard to Jews. He supported his argument by referring to the act of the Sejm (the lower house of the Polish parliament) whose goal was to return Jewish property swiftly. Similar acts became law in Romania, Hungary, and Austria, and were considered by the Czech Republic. In a letter Moskal added a reference to "the murder by Israel of innocent women and children who were sheltered in UN camps in Lebanon."

Moskal transformed the PAC from its Polish-oriented lobbying active mostly in Washington to greater activity in Warsaw. His criticisms of Israel and the Jewish lobbying groups internationally became a focus of attention. The American Jewish Congress (AJC), called Moskal an anti-Semite.

In a letter to Prime Minister Buzek he criticized the nomination of Wladyslaw Bartoszewski as a member of the Remembrance Committee. (Bartoszewski was an inmate in Auschwitz). The letter ended: "It brings me comfort to think that, with God's help, you shall be prime minister only until the spring." [5]

Under the headline: "Another Trojan horse of Jewish organizations", Moskal reflected: "Who employs Kieres. Aren't these the lackeys who, feeling strange guilt, yield to Jewish demands.." In the same statement he advises Jews: "It would be better if they treated Palestinians properly without killing their children. Terrible is the image of a young Palestinian protected by his own father against Israeli gunfire, moments later dead from the bullets of these 'heroes'." [5]

The American Jewish Committee severed its longtime ties with the PAC in 1996 after Moskal wrote a letter to Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski, criticizing him and other Polish leaders for being too conciliatory toward Jews.[6]

He made headlines a few years later when he speculated that Polish war hero Jan Nowak-Jeziorański was a Nazi collaborator.[7]

In 2002, when Rahm Emanuel pursued the U.S. House seat in the 5th District of Illinois, Moskal supported former Illinois State Representative Nancy Kaszak. Moskal called Emanuel a "millionaire carpetbagger who knows nothing" about "our heritage". Moskal also charged that Emanuel had dual citizenship with Israel and had served in the Israeli Army.[8] Emanuel's father was an Israeli immigrant. Emanuel was a civilian volunteer assisting the Israel Defense Forces for a short time during the 1991 Gulf War.[9][10]

Other actions[edit]

He took former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar to task at a Pulaski (Kazimierz Pułaski) Day event in 1996, demanding the ouster of then state Education Superintendent Joseph A. Spagnolo for failing to order Illinois schools to teach about Pulaski, a Revolutionary War hero who was born in Poland.[11]

When the late syndicated columnist Ann Landers used a racially derogatory term to describe Pope John Paul II in The New Yorker, Moskal quipped, "She should have shut up after she made the nice remark about the pope."[12]

References[edit]

External links[edit]