Connect with us
Israel Bonds RRSP


Herb Kohl, former Jewish senator from Wisconsin and Milwaukee Bucks owner, dies at 88

(JTA) — Herb Kohl, the longtime Jewish senator from Wisconsin who loved his Milwaukee hometown so much he bought its basketball team to keep it there, has died at 88.

Kohl was known for his soft-spoken, unobtrusive approach as a philanthropist, a retail mogul and a senator, an outlook he said he learned from his Jewish immigrant parents.

Kohl died Wednesday after a short illness, his namesake foundation said.

Elected to the first of four terms in the Senate in 1988, he became an influential member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he was a must-meet for pro-Israel lobbyists advocating for defense assistance for Israel. He was a leader on advocacy for children and the elderly, chairing the Senate Aging committee and authoring bills that expanded funding for school lunches and mandated child-safety locks on guns.

“There was always one constituency that everyone in the office knew was more important to Herb than anyone else, and that was children,” Brad Fitch, a one time spokesman for Kohl, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2011, after Kohl said his fourth term would be his last. “He would say, ‘They don’t contribute to campaigns, they don’t have a lobbyist.’ ”

He was also a leader in the Jewish community, helming a campaign that raised millions for Israel in a relatively small community in an emergency campaign after the 1967 Six-Day War.

Yet he abjured attention until his middle age, buying the NBA Milwaukee Bucks franchise  in 1985, when he was 50, in order to keep them in the city, and then running for the Senate when he was 53.

“He loved sports, he loved Milwaukee and Wisconsin,” Bud Selig, the Jewish former Major League Baseball commissioner and a childhood friend of Kohl’s, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I think his career is so really unusual in this day and age.”

Kohl was born and raised in Milwaukee. His parents, Max and Mary, had immigrated to Milwaukee from Poland and Russia, respectively, in the early 20th century. Max Kohl opened a grocery store before Herb was born; by the time he reached adulthood, Herb Kohl, one of four siblings, had helped build an extensive chain of grocery and department stores. Kohl left the management in 1979 of a company that now has over 1,000 stores nationwide. 

Kohl said his father instilled in his children a strong work ethic — Herb Kohl started work in the chain as a bag boy. He said he also learned from his father to keep his emotions in check.

“My father was a person who had a very strong control over his ego and his needs,” USA Today, in its obituary, quoted Kohl as once saying. “He was a very driven man, but he was not a person who had the need to belittle people or fight with people or reduce them. He learned to control those impulses, which we all have, I think. He was a very controlled, disciplined person, and he was very influential on me in that respect.”

In 2016, speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Kohl said his father taught him to give back to a community that had welcomed them.

“My father once said, ‘Money is like manure. It’s not good unless you spread it around,’” he told the newspaper. “Maybe the day I die all the money will be gone. Whatever. I’ve had a productive life. A happy life. A healthy life. And I never forget it. I’m very grateful for all the good luck I’ve had in my lifetime.”

His Jewish expression was low-key but had significant effect. Kohl asked Ray Allen, a star player with the Bucks, to accompany him in 1998 on a tour of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and it changed the player forever. He was soon urging fellow players to join him on tours whenever they were in Washington to play the Wizards. Allen joined the museum’s council in 2016.

Kohl was for a period in the 1990s and 2000s part of an anomalous group of Jewish senators elected from northern midwestern states with small Jewish populations. Russ Feingold served as the junior Wisconsin senator from 1993-2011, and there was a rotation of Jewish senators in neighboring Minnesota in the same period.

Sen. Herb Kohl meets with then Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, May 12, 2010. (Office of Senator Herb Kohl)

In the Senate, the Democratic politician’s focus was on oversight and keeping spending within budgets. “I’m running as a businessman,” the Journal Sentinel quoted him as saying in its obituary. “I’m a person who hasn’t spent a nickel until he made a nickel.”

Kohl self-funded his campaigns so he wouldn’t be beholden to others, and he did not take kindly to the super-rich.

“The one thing I’ve never appreciated is when I meet people who are successful and some of them think it’s all about them, that they’re the ones who made the success and they deserve all the credit,” he told the Sentinel Journal in his 2016 interview. “Big egos. Dominating personalities. That’s a bad way to be. I don’t like people who are overweening in their self-esteem because they’re wrong and it doesn’t bode well for people around them. Too often, they’re also selfish and greedy. It’s a bad characteristic and I’ve always worked as hard as I can not to be suffused in that kind of thinking.”

President Joe Biden said his former Senate colleague, one of the richest men in Wisconsin, did not keep easy company with fellow multimillionaires.

“Throughout his career, Herb was unafraid to stand up to the business community that he’d come from, seeking to level the playing field for workers and make our economy more efficient and fair,” Biden said in a statement Thursday. 

His passion was Wisconsin, where he was familiar with the minutiae of its dairy farms, holding up the budget in 1999 for hours until he got through the state’s farmers’ desired dairy pricing reforms.

The best part of Kohl’s day was meeting constituents. Each day between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. was coffee and muffins with Wisconsinites.

​​“Trying to drag Herb for a hearing away from those breakfasts was impossible,” Fitch said in 2011.

Kohl bought the Bucks in 1985 when it was rumored that their ailing owner was set to sell the team to buyers who would move the franchise. He dumped millions into the struggling team to keep it in Milwaukee, and when he sold it in 2014, he offered a discount in part to extract a promise that the new owners would keep the team in Wisconsin, and he pledged $100 million to build a new stadium to clinch the deal.

He also gave out $10 million to Bucks employees in bonuses.

“Every day I remind myself how fortunate I’ve been because so much of life is luck,” Kohl said told the Journal Sentinel in 2016. “I was born into a great family, had a great opportunity at Kohl’s, and on and on. I’ve had many, many great experiences and very few bad experiences. So what more can you ask for?”

Kohl, who never married, is survived by his siblings and their children. A nephew, Dan Kohl, helped found J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, and ran for Congress unsuccessfully in 2018.

The post Herb Kohl, former Jewish senator from Wisconsin and Milwaukee Bucks owner, dies at 88 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


The detailed plans for a Canadian law that regulates hate speech online are seen as a ‘good start’ by Jewish groups

Jewish groups and others concerned about the rise of hate speech online welcomed the introduction of a new government bill on Feb. 26. And while the parliamentary process for it to become law is only beginning, it’s a good start according to advocacy groups who have called for the government to regulate certain types of […]

The post The detailed plans for a Canadian law that regulates hate speech online are seen as a ‘good start’ by Jewish groups appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

Continue Reading


‘You Jew!’: UC Berkeley Mob Attacks Jews During Event With IDF Soldier, University Pledges Investigation

Mob of anti-Zionists attempting to infiltrate event with Ran Bar-Yoshafat at University of California, Berkeley on February 27, 2024. Photo: Screenshot/Twitter

A mob of hundreds pro-Palestinian students and non-students shut down an event Monday evening at University of California-Berkeley featuring an Israeli soldier, forcing Jewish students to flee to a secret safe room as the protestors overwhelmed campus police

Footage of the incident shared by the outlet shows a serried mass of anti-Zionist agitators banging on the doors of the Zellerbach Library while an event featuring Israeli reservist Ran Bar-Yoshafat —who visited the university to discuss his military service during Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7 — took place inside. The mob then stormed the building — breaking glass windows in the process, according reports in the Daily Wire — and forced school officials to evacuate Jewish students to a secret safe-room.

“What happened last night was deeply concerning and a violation of some of our most important rules and values as a university, including freedom of speech, respect for diversity, and the ties that bind us together as a community,” UC Berkeley assistant vice chancellor for communications and public affairs Dan Mogulof told The Algemeiner on Tuesday during a phone interview. “What we saw last night has no recent precedent. More than an estimated 200 protesters showed up at the venue and gained unauthorized entry into the building. There has never been anything like what occurred last night.”

Mogulof pledged that the university will launch an investigation into the incident.

“We do not and will not ignore violations of our rules and values,” he said. “When we have events like this, we always have two priorities. One, to do everything in our power so the event goes forward and the other is to do everything in our power to protect the safety and well being of our students and members of the public, and given the size of the crowd, and the violence of the crowd, we were unable to do both, even with 20 police officers. The event had to be cancelled, so that we could evacuate the building and support the safety of the students.”

During the infiltration of Zellerbach, one of the mob — which was assembled by Bears for Palestine, which had earlier proclaimed its intention to cancel the event — spit on a Jewish student and called him a “Jew,” pejoratively.

“You know what I was screamed at? ‘Jew, you Jew, you Jew,’ literally right to my face,” the student who was attacked said to a friend. “Some woman — then she spit at me.”

Shaya Keyvanfar, a student, told The Algemeiner that her sister was spit and that the incident was unlike any she had ever witnessed.

“Once the doors were closed, the protesters somehow found a side door and pushed it open, and a few of them managed to get in, and once they did, they tried to open the door for the rest of them,” Keyvanfar said. “It was really scary. They were pounding on the windows outside — they broke one — they spit at my sister and others. They called someone a dirty Jew. It was eerie.”

Keyvanfar added that it may be difficult to identify the culprits because anti-Zionists activists wear masks to conceal their identities.

Security concerns plagued the event all week, according to the Daily Wire, and after arriving on campus Bar-Yoshafat was required to conceal his identity. Prior to that, the location of the event was changed to various locations to prevent violence.

“I just felt really bad for these kids because they were scared,” Bar-Yoshafat told Daily Wire. “Girls were crying from being attacked, and I think the kid that was spat on was just so shocked. I don’t think the students anticipated so many people being violent, they thought they would just chant outside.”

During Tuesday’s interview with The Algemeiner Mogulof stressed that the university “understands now that we are in new territory” and called the incident a “black mark” on its reputation. He also explained that UC Berkeley launched an antisemitism awareness program in 2019, which included panels and talks with esteemed scholars of Jewish history such as Deborah Lipstadt, because it takes the issue of campus antisemitism seriously.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post ‘You Jew!’: UC Berkeley Mob Attacks Jews During Event With IDF Soldier, University Pledges Investigation first appeared on

Continue Reading


Prominent Pro-Hamas Activist in Australia Arrested on Kidnapping and Torture Charges

Australian pro-Hamas activist Laura Allam. Photo: X/Twitter

Australian police on Monday announced the arrest of a prominent pro-Hamas advocate accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and torture of a man whose perceived offense was to work for a Jewish employer.

Melbourne resident Laura Allam was charged with kidnapping, armed robbery, illegal detention, assault and battery against the 31-year-old man, who has not been named by authorities. Working with an accomplice who has also been arrested and charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, armed robbery, threats to kill, intention to cause injury, recklessly causing injury, unlawful assault and assault with weapon, the 28-year-old Allam is  understood to have targeted the man solely because his employer is Jewish.

According to a statement from police in the State of Victoria, the brutal assault occurred on the night of Feb. 16 in the Melbourne suburb of St. Albans. “It’s alleged a man was pulled from a car near the intersection of Gladstone and Cleveland streets about 9.30pm,” the statement noted. “He was then allegedly placed in another car and assaulted and robbed before being released in Braybrook.” The victim required extensive treatment in hospital for injuries sustained in the “horrific kidnapping and torture.”

Allam is a prominent member of Australia’s large Lebanese community and the CEO of the Al Jannah Foundation, which bills itself as an Islamic humanitarian organization. While Allam’s social media profiles specify that she is still running the organization, an entry on the Australian register of companies notes that the foundation ceased operations in July 2023, less than three years after it was formally incorporated. The foundation’s website additionally lists a number of projects that it is raising money for — including addressing food shortages in Lebanon and child health challenges — that apparently remain unfunded.

In the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel, Allam dedicated most of her time to attacking Israel on social media as well as spreading false information on her TikTok account, which had 20,000 followers before being closed down, as well as X/Twitter and Instagram. One post on Feb. 5 promoted the fabricated claim that a British Royal Navy warship dispatched to the Gulf to combat attacks on shipping by Houthi terrorists in Yemen had “broken down off the coasts of England.”

Her barbs against Israel on social media included a post that declared “good riddance” over an image of four Israeli soldiers killed while serving in Gaza. On Oct. 8 — the day after the Hamas pogrom which resulted in the murder of more than 1,200 people and the kidnapping of over 200 amid atrocities that included mass rape and bodily mutilation — Allam told her followers that she had “woken up to some great news from our beloved Palestine.” Other posts spoke of “a jihad of martyrdom or victory” and lauded attempts to “avenge the martyrs in Jenin and Gaza.”

Allam discussed her arrest in her final post on her Instagram account before it was closed down. Reproduced on the pro-Israel blog Israellycool, Allam’s post boasted of her “selflessness” and her commitment to “remaining quiet — for now,” going on to declare that “[T]here are words that burn the wildest flames in the deepest pits of my heart and will only ever be extinguished when Allah takes the ‘haqq’ (truth) from every single oppressor to walk this earth.”

“This seems to be an admission as to her involvement, yet amazingly no apology for her actions,” Israellycool observed in an accompanying commentary. “In fact, she speaks as if the incident somehow passively ‘occurred’ – as opposed to her actively doing something terrible.”

In its coverage of Allam’s arrest on Monday, Melbourne’s Herald Sun news outlet reported on “an extraordinary suppression order relating to her case prevents the Herald Sun from running Ms Allam’s image, referencing some ethnic groups or providing certain detail about her advocacy activities.” However, several posts on X/Twitter shared her photograph, her name and her other affiliations.

Allam made the news earlier this month after she spoke at a pro-Hamas protest at the Australian parliament in Canberra alongside three senators from the left-wing Green Party. Responding to the event, Sky News Australia host Andrew Bolt highlighted Allam’s Islamist loyalties, saying, “[T]hat’s one of the people now sharing a stage with the Greens. The Greens may not have known of Allam’s past, but this is who they find next to them in their gutter.”

The post Prominent Pro-Hamas Activist in Australia Arrested on Kidnapping and Torture Charges first appeared on

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News