Meet the Falics: West Bank settlement funders, Netanyahu backers, and owners of Duty Free America

US Politics
on 44 Comments

The name Sheldon Adelson, the right-wing, pro-Israel casino mogul who has bankrolled the Republican Party, rings a bell for close observers of American politics. But how about the Falic family?

The Falics should be just as well known. Members of the family have donated millions of dollars to pro-Israel U.S. politicians from both parties. Beneficiaries of their largesse include GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney; Democrats Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Eliot Engel; the Republican National Committee; and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In addition, the family has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political campaigns.

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They have made their money through Duty Free America, which operates stores in airports around the U.S and the world where consumers buy tax-free products.

Leon Falic and his brothers bought the company in 2001. The Florida-based Falic Family Private Foundation, which receives the bulk of its funds from Duty Free Americas, has given money to a variety of pro-Israel causes, including West Bank settlements. And on December 28, the family is set to donate a Torah to Ariel University’s synagogue in honor of Fima Falic, who died in 2012. Israeli politicians will join the family in a ceremony that day. Nily Falic, the wife of the late Fima, is the national chairperson of the Friends of the IDF, a multi-million dollar operation that gives tax-free donations to the Israeli army.

The Falics are one of a number of wealthy, right-leaning Jewish American families that fund Israel’s and America’s right-wing politicians and illegal settlement projects. Hundreds of millions of dollars from U.S. tax-free foundations are poured into Israeli West Bank settlements every year. Taken together, the funds that originate in the U.S. are used for everything from infrastructure to business to security, solidifying Israeli control over the West Bank and putting a Palestinian state further out of reach.

A Duty Free Americas’ employee told me over the phone the Falics were not available for comment until Monday.

In addition to boosting the coffers of Netanyahu, Romney and Wasserman Schultz, the Falic Family has sponsored students to take a Zionist Organization of America-sponsored trip to Israel, where they visited the Falic-owned Psagot Winery, located in the settlement of Psagot, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. After Fima Falic died, the Zionist Organization of America released a statement extending “condolences to the entire Falic family on the sudden passing of Fima Falic, true Zionist and generous Israel supporter.” And as Mondoweiss’ Allison Deger reported in 2012, the family also funded an archeological dig in the settlement of Shiloh.

Tax forms I reviewed provide more details on the Falic family’s wealth, but the only detailed accounting of where donations went is in the records for fiscal year 2006. That year, the foundation gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to a range of groups related to Israel, including: $43,000 to the American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, which funds East Jerusalem settlements; $15,000 to the American Friends of Likud; $104,000 to a U.S. charity that funds a yeshiva in the Hebron settlement of Kiryat Arba, populated by the most extreme Israeli settlers; $85,000 to the Central Fund of Israel, another settlement fundraising vehicle; and $63,600 to Manhigut Yehudit, the Jewish Leadership movement run by Member of Knesset Moshe Feiglin, who has proposed paying Palestinians to move out of Gaza and called for the “conquest” and “annihilation” of people in Gaza.

On December 28, the Falic family will make another show of support for West Bank settlements. Nearly 20 Falic family members are set to participate in a ceremony at Ariel University marking the donation of the Torah, according to a press statement sent by Ariel University. The family members who will participate include Nily, national chairperson of the Friends of the IDF, and Simon, the chairman of Duty Free Americas. Also participating in the ceremony will be Likud Member of Knesset Limor Livnat (who announced her retirement earlier this month), the mayor of Ariel and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the religious leader for the Western Wall.

Ariel University is in the mega-settlement of Ariel, located deep in the occupied West Bank. In late 2012, the Israeli military recognized the university as an accredited Israeli school, the first school in a settlement to receive that recognition. (The Israeli military has authority to over the West Bank, which includes the granting of accreditation for schools.) That decision led 165 professors to publicly calling for the boycott of Ariel University.

In September, Ariel University’s administration fired an Israeli professor named Amir Hetsroni after he penned articles in Haaretz that criticized settlements, including Ariel.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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44 Responses

  1. Boomer
    December 27, 2014, 6:47 pm

    “tax-free donations to the Israeli army,” does this mean that Americans can deduct contributions to the IDF when calculating their federal income tax? It makes sense, I guess, since Congress directly appropriates billions from tax revenue; so logically Congress critters would figure, why not indirectly subsidize private contributions too? Still, I find it jarring. I make my little contributions to charities like MSF, Red Cross, etc. I think of them as charities. I don’t regard the IDF as a charity.

    • traintosiberia
      December 27, 2014, 6:54 pm

      Contribution to settlement activity is tax exempt thanks to the jargon and obfuscation and legal wording

      • Citizen
        December 29, 2014, 5:43 am

        Yes, the US goes out of its way to deny favorable tax treatment to any NGO charity remotely connected in any way to helping Palestinians under the logic US won’t contrite to terrorists or their aider and abettors; conversely, the US goes out of its way to reward illegal settlers and support the IDF, a foreign army, with favorable tax treatment. This is just another example of US taxpayers funding Israel and its whims indirectly which supplements said taxpayers direct annual foreign aid to the Israel Project. US picks the pockets of increasingly impoverished Dick and Jane in a myriad of ways with very few being the wiser. All donations to Israel, direct and indirect, are fungible to the max.

    • PofTarsus
      December 29, 2014, 6:06 pm

      Regrettably, but not surprisingly, the Falics are following a well-worn yet highly-lucrative script.

      In 1958 Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion appointed super-lobbyist Abraham Feinberg as North American coordinator to raise funds for Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program. Feinberg was a logical choice. He had bundled Israel lobby funds for the Democratic presidential campaign of Harry S. Truman, and later would do the same for Lyndon B. Johnson.

      In the 1940s Feinberg led the charge to successfully beat back Justice Dept. attempts to prosecute a labyrinthine network of false front organizations illicitly smuggling surplus U.S. WW II weapons and equipment to Jewish fighters in Palestine for Israel’s “War of Independence.”

      On the nuclear front, Feinberg chaperoned U.S. charities channeling hundreds of millions of tax-exempt donations into Israeli research organizations — such as the Weizmann Institute of Science — working on the bomb. A 1987 U.S. Defense Dept. study found that the Weizmann Institute worked on lasers to enrich uranium used in Israel’s nuclear weapons.

      This outrageous abuse makes a strong argument for scrapping the tax code for individuals and abolishing ALL itemized deductions, including the charitable deduction. At minimum, the charitable deduction must somehow be strictly limited to legit, benign, domestic charities (such as those listed in the comment above) that are tightly regulated and carefully monitored.

  2. traintosiberia
    December 27, 2014, 6:52 pm

    Does it operate in Middle East and S East Asian airport?

    • Walid
      December 28, 2014, 12:07 am

      Most probably.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        December 28, 2014, 6:32 am

        Duty Free America also has a subsidiary in the international fashion industry — the Falic Fashion Group. Not to be confused with the Phallic Fashion Group.

      • traintosiberia
        December 29, 2014, 1:00 pm

        I hope BDS hasnt missed this ethnic cleansing madhouse

  3. Daniel Rich
    December 27, 2014, 7:07 pm

    “One of the great under-told stories of the anti-police turmoil after the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand-jury decisions is the instigating role played by anti-Israel activists.” New York Post.

    Wtf?!

    • a blah chick
      December 27, 2014, 8:17 pm

      Wow, that column has got to be the most passive-aggressive thing I’ve read in years. There were plenty of gems but I think this one was my favorite:

      “For several months, anti-Israel activists have attached themselves to the racial-grievance and anarchist-extreme leftist protests in an attempt to redirect anger toward Israel.”

      Race Hustlers!

      BTW didn’t the Ferguson PD send some of its cops to Israel for training?

      • Kay24
        December 27, 2014, 9:18 pm

        BTW didn’t the Ferguson PD send some of its cops to Israel for training?

        Good question. I always wonder if these accused cops who keep killing unarmed kids in the US, were trained in Israel. There is that same attitude of disregard for civilians.

      • catporn
        December 28, 2014, 11:14 am

        I read that at least a quarter of the Ferguson police shipped in to ‘keep the peace’ after the Brown murder, had received training from the Israelis. Can’t find the link atm though.

  4. JWalters
    December 27, 2014, 7:46 pm

    Suppose those amounts of money had been available to finance the non-sectarian democracy in Palestine that the British promised its inhabitants. An American-style democracy would be radiating its influence in the Middle East instead of a religious supremacist state radiating war.

    • catporn
      December 28, 2014, 11:32 am

      A united, peaceful, resource rich, pan Arabia in full control of one of the, if not thee, most strategic points on the planet – that might explain the West’s procrastination with regard to peace in the region.
      Divide and rule.

      • Walid
        December 28, 2014, 1:04 pm

        “A united pan-Arabia…”

        Could never happen, catporn, too many different people and cultures of varrying vocations involved, contrary to what Zionists would have everyone believe to keep them spooked.

      • catporn
        December 29, 2014, 8:30 am

        Your probably right Walid, but without outside forces vying for influence maybe a peaceful coexistence could flourish, obviously Israel in its current form doesn’t fit that model, but my point was more about how instability, warring factions and propped up dictators in the region, benefits those outside forces and gives them an excuse to have a permanent military presence. Recently I learnt of a new British base being built in Bahrain, it’s not being put there to protect the UK population is it.

      • Ellen
        December 29, 2014, 9:42 am

        catporn, “it’s not being put there to protect the UK population is it.”

        Ha! It is being put there to prop up the Al-Kahlifas and the flow of dough from Bahrain and Qatar, etc. into the UK economy. The UK economy is now deeply dependent on that flow. Heck, 1/3rd of the prime commercial real estate in the UK is owned by Bahrain or Qatar. The UK has a whole lot of interests in the ME connected with and supported by their made up “Royals” they created out of Bedouin tribal leaders of the moment.

        There are so many Brits working in these “Kingdoms” it is like the Philippines sending out their population to work in other countries and send the cash home. Would love to see the flow of funds into the UK from the Gulf States.

        And it is resentment of these pretend Royals in Bahrain that feeds not only a growing opposition, but radical or extremist opposition groups. So that is the cycle. (The Qataris are still bought off and pampered by their monarch.)

        The US 5thfleet sitting in Bahrain is the reactivated Pacific Fleet. How much longer will the US keep it there? Does the US have an interest in propping up the Al-Kahlifa’s? Not really.

        If the Brits thought the US would stay there, why would they move to build a naval base in Bahrain? And the US air base, Al Udeid in Qatar is, well…..it is a Qatari base and the US is a guest there, essentially protecting the “Kingdom.” But for how long? And why?

        If the rulers of Bahrain fall, there dominoes in the gulf will follow. Watch Bahrain.

  5. a blah chick
    December 27, 2014, 8:11 pm

    I can’t recall where I read it but someone commented that a friend or relative in Israel was told by the army to bring their own tents when they reported for reserve duty. Also the IDF has a problem with recruits either skipping duty or going AWOL because the pay is too low and they have families to support.

    Makes one wonder where all those billions go.

    • Marnie
      December 28, 2014, 2:59 am

      Into the very deep pockets of the GoI. They give the soldiers nothing, food can be very bad and sparse, uniforms are cheap and ugly, pay is a joke (barely over $100/month if you aren’t in combat, if in combat its almost $200/month, but they’re supposed to get a raise of 20% I think, and other variables too). During Lebanon 2006, a businessman whose son was in the army actually brought food to his son and some others because of “shortages”. Those billions don’t go anywhere near the soldiers.

      • a blah chick
        December 28, 2014, 9:57 am

        I’m currently following this Givati brigade scandal since it combines the three things I love about Israel: corruption, sex and the IDF.

        In addition to groping and sexual assaulting some of their subordinates several officers are accused of pilfering money that was donated to the unit. And guess who is right in the middle of this mess, our old friend Ofer Winter, who appears to have taken time out from the destruction of the Gaza to launch a cover up.

        Let’s hope the offal sticks to Ofer.

      • Mooser
        December 28, 2014, 11:26 am

        Well, Marnie, what do you expect? The soldiers are drafted because they are Jewish. Does that happen anyplace else in the world?

      • Mooser
        December 28, 2014, 12:22 pm

        Wait a minute, and all those ridiculous settlers, living in insecurity, conflict and without much control, beyond being a big pain in the ass, over their own future, well, because they are Jewish…
        And all the rest of the stuff in Israel, the insane and corrupt tangle of religio-legal system, the segregation, the marriage laws, all because they are Jewish.
        I am going to stay far away from Israel. It sounds like a very anti-Semitic place!

      • Walid
        December 28, 2014, 12:40 pm

        Marnie, more about what actually happened in 2006, Israeli soldiers were left to either starve or steal. One Israeli general actually gave them permission to steal:

        “Israeli general: troops in Lebanon should steal food, get ready for winter
        Submitted by David Bloom on Mon, 08/14/2006 – 07:37Palestine Theater
        Despite the ceasefire, Israeli soldiers fanned out across the Litani river, and between 10 – 30,000 may remain in Lebanon, creating certain logistics problems. According to Ha’aretz, Aug. 14:

        IDF general: Soldiers may steal food from south Lebanon stores

        “If our fighters deep in Lebanese territory are left without food our water, I believe they can break into local Lebanese stores to solve that problem,” Brigadier General Avi Mizrahi, the head of the Israel Defense Forces logistics branch, said Monday.

        Mizrahi’s comments followed complaints by IDF soldiers regarding the lack of food on the front lines.

        “If what they need to do is take water from the stores, they can take,” Mizrahi told Army Radio.

        According to Mizrahi, the logistics branch is prepared for the possibility that combat soldiers will have to remain in Lebanon during the winter.

        From Ha’aretz’ readers’ responses to the article:

        * Note to owner: You have just been robbed by the most moral army in the world.

        * The troops also lack money and women. What do you say, general?

        From As’ad Abu Khalil: (AKA The Angry Arab): “I remember in 1982, the people in the Tyre region were most shocked at the theft by Israeli troops. They would steal everything from houses that they would search: cigarettes, lighters, food, etc.”

        The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem documented the testimony of an Israeli soldier describing widespread looting during Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank in the Spring of 2002:

        There was a serious problem of looting and vandalism. There were incidents in the past, when we took over houses. I don’t know why there were more cases in this operation. There was a feeling of war. Maybe the suicide-attack in Netanya [that killed dozens of Israelis on the eve of the Passover seder] upset everybody. There was a feeling that a certain threshold had been crossed. Maybe Ramallah blinded the guys. Televisions and TV converters – they took them or broke them. As for computers, it was unbelievable. The soldiers did the best they could to destroy and steal. They removed hard disks, chips, and sound cards. I heard about soldiers stealing money, but I don’t know about specific cases. Some took mobile phones and compact discs from people’s homes. There were soldiers who destroyed the insides of a computer and then put back the cover. I didn’t see a single computer that hadn’t been dam- aged. CD burners were stolen like hotcakes. Even whole computers disappeared. Platoon majors would bring trucks and load them up. It was all carried out in the open. The building we were in had sophisticated equipment – all of it was destroyed or taken….”

        http://ww4report.com/node/2325

        What a big difference from Hizbullah’s fighters. On their return to their shops, owners found completed lists of what Hizbullah fighters had helped themselves to during the fighting with a note that after the war, everything taken would be paid for. And sure enough, when the war ended, Hizbulah reps went around and paid for everything that had been taken eventhough the shopowners had refused to accept payment; Hizbullah insisted on paying for all goods that had been taken.

  6. Blownaway
    December 27, 2014, 9:27 pm

    Bought and paid for : Senator Graham threatens to defund UN over Palestine bid
    Graham went so far as to say that “any effort by the French, the Jordanians or anyone to avoid direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians over the peace process, anyone who tries to take this to the UN Security Council” will be met with “a violent backlash by the Congress that could include suspending funding to the United Nations. We will not sit back and allow the United Nations to take over the peace process.He also said the US Congress “has your back, in a very bipartisan way. The Republican Party now runs the House and the Senate, and things will be a bit different. But one thing will be constant: There will be bipartisan support” for Israel.

    Read more: Senator Graham threatens to defund UN over Palestine bid | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/pm-israel-to-stand-firm-against-palestinian-statehood-bid/#ixzz3N9hWSBPc
    Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

    • Kay24
      December 27, 2014, 9:51 pm

      Eventually the American slaves, and guard dogs, raise their heads and do the bidding of AIPAC.

      They rather see the poor Palestinians suffer, be massacred, under occupation, and losing all their lands, than push Israel to stop the crimes and talk peace. Graham, like so many elected by us, are a shameless bunch.

    • a blah chick
      December 27, 2014, 10:11 pm

      Isn’t it interesting that NO ONE talks about de funding the PA out of existence.

      Funny that.

    • Annie Robbins
      December 28, 2014, 12:54 am

      great, let them defund. the UN will carry on without US funding.

      • Blownaway
        December 28, 2014, 2:29 am

        It would actually be great for the US to defund the UN in favor to JSIL ( Jewish state in the levant) it will hasten the decline of the US empire like a drug addict we must hit bottom

      • Annie Robbins
        December 28, 2014, 2:47 am

        i agree blownaway.

      • Marnie
        December 28, 2014, 7:27 am

        There’s too many strings attached to largesse of the US and there’s too much corruption. Not to say the UN isn’t corrupt or has the propensity, but maybe the oversight would be much better. I wish Lindsay Graham would get tossed out of Washington, with a lot of others. Seriously, what does he do besides obeisance to the GoI, AIPAC and the Israel Lobby? Has he ever worked for Americans? They should be given 4 years to so what they promised in their campaigns and then out with them. Give someone else a chance to be a traitorous cowpie.

      • Ellen
        December 28, 2014, 9:05 am

        You could be so very right, Blownaway.

        After all, the US has never supported the UN and perhaps passively undermined it from the early days.

        After WWII , and in Israel’s early years, the US was in a position to influence and even enforce a lasting solution. There was no interest.

        And with all the efforts and engagement of the UN envoy Bernadotte who was murdered by Shamir and Co., the IN was put into a path of failure. And the politics of Zionist extremism allowed to define the future of Israel. And the possibilities of two peoples building a common future snuffed out forever.

        When time allows, this is an excellent must see documentary of the “Killing of the Count”, the UN, and in a way, a peaceful future for Israel.

        http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2014/06/killing-count-20146282143931887.html

        Graham and those in the US Senate are no different than Zionist extremists who have destroyed an Israeli future.

    • Marnie
      December 28, 2014, 1:02 pm

      Walid –
      So the shortages were bogus? Was it just an excuse for looting? It seems like the generals really want their soldiers to be as doggish and immoral as possible. Their IOU’s must have gotten lost in the mail, you think? The most moral army in the world nothing more than hoodlums. I respect for Hezbollah now. That is honorable.

      • RoHa
        December 28, 2014, 6:08 pm

        I recall reading that as soon as the fighting stopped, Hezbollah sent people to assess the destruction and start the reconstruction of the towns. The Lebanese Government had a hard time finding heavy equipment because Hezbollah simply hired nearly all of it straight away. There was no profiteering on the building supplies because Hezbollah told the suppliers not to raise their prices. (The suppliers were, probably, persuaded by the arguments given by bright young Hezbollah guys with degrees in Economics and Business Studies. And AK47s.)

  7. Bumblebye
    December 27, 2014, 10:00 pm

    What an unfortunate last name. I wonder how often it’s misspelt?
    I’d also hate to be an adolescent Falic. Must be hard – er, no, I mean difficult, going thru those years at school!

    • oldgeezer
      December 27, 2014, 11:24 pm

      Luckily most kids have probably no idea that the word phallic exists let alone what it means.

      • Kay24
        December 28, 2014, 12:30 am

        Lol. You are right. They might think it is some computer game. There is a game that I sometimes play called Phlinx. it sounds something like that. Heh.

  8. Pixel
    December 28, 2014, 4:06 am

    .
    Thanks, Alex!

  9. Mooser
    December 28, 2014, 12:36 pm

    Yisrael Beiteinu corruption scandal…

    Yisrael Beitienu? Oy, Gottenyu!

  10. Ramzi Jaber
    December 28, 2014, 1:16 pm

    No surprise here. zionist money and power buys what they want (almost). But, to their chagrin, they can’t buy demographics.

    Today, there are about 3.1B Christians (roughly 40% of the world) with an annual growth rate of about 1.3%.

    There are about 2.1B moslems (about 30% of the world) with an annual growth rate of 1.9%.

    Jews are at about 14M (about 0.2% of the world) with an annual growth rate of 0.7%. Most of the jewish growth is from the religious haredi part of the population. Out of the 0.2%, less than 0.05% are zionist.

    Do the math.

    As they say: You can’t swim against the stream all the time. You can try, but the stream will overwhelm you at one point.

    • ziusudra
      December 29, 2014, 4:26 am

      Greetings Ramzi,
      tks for the stats.
      66 yrs. of lonjevity for a state is not history of importance. The maccabean dynasty lasted longer.
      Zionistan has de facto won on the merits of the US & the Euros. mostly Germany in financial & military contributions. Oil & Gas are worthless commodities w/o refineraries. The US has loads more under ground with ‘fracking’ & the billions of tons of Cannada’s reserves, who needs Saudi Arabia or their midget sheikdoms in the ME? Even O’bloomers is pining for the east where the big poker games will be played. The US will no longer need a vassal state on its frontier in the ME, exit Zionistan.
      ziusudra
      PS Zionistan, you had it all, but you didn’t make any friends in the ME.

  11. seafoid
    December 28, 2014, 2:55 pm

    Jewish money can buy influence and build houses but the land is not jewish so it’s fairly pointless.

  12. tommy
    December 29, 2014, 11:04 am

    Settlement funding should be considered a terrorist act; funding settlements is more damaging to peace than funding Palestinian retaliation to Israeli aggression, which has been deemed illegal and used to incarcerate individuals for decades. The leaders of Falic and Adelson wealth need to be imprisoned for decades.

  13. W.Jones
    December 31, 2014, 8:59 am

    I am confused what is the gold object in front of the speaker. Is it a Falic symbol?

  14. Mooser
    December 31, 2014, 6:36 pm

    “I am confused what is the gold object in front of the speaker.”

    Maybe that the medals they are giving out, in presentation cases? That’s a guess.

    ceremony giving former Israeli President Shimon Peres the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014.”

    But they don’t look too medal-like.

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