Last week, the Associated Press ran a hit job on a successful American businessman. Simon Falic and his two brothers own the Duty Free Americas chain, a private company that runs duty free stores in airports throughout the United States and Latin America.
They also happen to be Jewish. Simon Falic in particular is a powerful advocate for Jewish causes worldwide and for the State of Israel.
Through their family foundation, Simon Falic and his wife donate to dozens of organizations in Israel. The causes they support run the gamut from medical research to Jewish education. They support synagogue construction and refurbishment; archaeological excavations and preservation of archaeological sites; battered women’s shelters and day care centers; and the construction of new Jewish communities in Israel.
AP’s hit piece centers on Falic’s charitable work.
The title of the article gave the game away. It read, “U.S. duty free owners give millions to settlements.”
The obvious question is: so what? There is nothing even vaguely illegal about Falic’s charitable undertakings. And indeed, the article doesn’t accuse him of committing or facilitating any crime.
Instead, the article’s immediate purpose is to “out” Falic as a Zionist Jew and make his support for Jewish national rights and national self-determination in the Jewish homeland stink of fascism and zealotry.
The AP didn’t even try to hide its purpose. The lead sentence read: “When travelers shop at dozens of duty free stores at airports worldwide, they may be paying for more than a bottle of vodka or a box of chocolates.”
Oh, really — what are you funding when you buy Godiva chocolates at the airport?
The Falic family of Florida, owners of the ubiquitous Duty Free America shops, funds a generous and sometimes controversial philanthropic empire in Israel that runs through the corridors of power and stretches deep into the Israeli-controlled West Bank. An Associated Press investigation shows that the family has donated at least $5.6 million to settler groups in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the past decade, funding synagogues, schools, and social services along with far-right causes considered extreme even in Israel.
The question is who in Israel views supporting schools in settlements as “extreme.” The answer is found in the identity of the author himself.
The AP reporter, Uri Blau, is associated with the radical left in Israel. In the past, Blau worked as an investigative reporter for Israel’s far left-wing newspaper Ha’aretz. In 2008, Blau ran a series of articles about the Israel Defense Force’s operations in Judea and Samaria that were based on top secret documents. He exposed details of operations that were highly damaging to Israeli forces and risked the lives of soldiers and officers involved in the operations.
The IDF opened an investigation into the source of the leaked documents. They discovered that a gossip reporter named Anat Kam, who had recently completed her conscripted military service in the Office of the Commander of Israeli Forces in Judea and Samaria, had copied thousands of classified documents during her military service. Ahead of her release, Kam stole the copied documents from her military base and transferred them to Blau. Kam was charged with, and convicted of, espionage-related offenses, and sentenced to prison time.
Blau received mixed responses from his fellow journalists for his actions. Some, who like Blau are identified with the radical left, upheld him as a paragon of journalistic integrity and courage — a man who got the story out, despite the dangers.
Most Israeli media criticized him for needlessly endangering soldiers and operations while bringing no significant added value to Israelis who didn’t need to know the information he published.
At any rate, now at his new job at the Associated Press, Blau uses his international platform to present the positions of the radical left in Israel as mainstream.
The Israeli government supports the Jewish community in Hebron, one of those Blau singles out for criticism. Most Israelis also see nothing wrong with supporting Israeli communities throughout the country, including in the West Bank. Indeed, polls suggest they support annexing Judea and Samaria.
Given that this is the case, the question is why did Blau write the article and why did the Associated Press publish it?
It would seem that the article serves multiple purposes. First, it puts a target on Falic for a future anti-Israel administration in the U.S. to harm.
During the Obama administration, the IRS didn’t limit its abusive treatment to opponents to Obama associated with the Tea Party. Jewish organizations that support conservative positions on Israel were also targeted. In the most well-publicized case, Z-Street, a Jewish group that sought to gain non-profit status for its Zionist education efforts, saw its application stalled and buried. An IRS official told a Z-Street representative that they were being slow rolled due to their positions on Israel.
Another purpose the article serves is to intimidate Falic by putting his business interests on the chopping block. Blau quotes Ran Cohen, a former member of Knesset from the radical leftist Meretz Party. (Blau represents him with the more neutral title “founder of the Israeli Democratic Bloc, which aims to expose anti-democratic trends.”)
Cohen, in turn, encouraged a consumer boycott of Falic’s business. In his words, “Everyone should be aware that when they shop at ‘Duty Free Americas,’ their dollars could potentially finance some of the most extreme right-wing actors in Israel.”
Falic, for his part, refused to be intimidated by Blau and the Associated Press.
In a statement to the news agency, he said:
To our family, “Never Again” is not a mantra but a call to action. We do not court controversy when it comes to backing individuals or causes in Israel or the US who act courageously in the face of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, racism, or any other form of discrimination. We are, however, unabashed lovers and supporters of Israel, and find it miraculous that the Jewish people have built a thriving and majestic democracy despite 2,000 years of persecution and exile.
It is unfortunate that a Jewish family dedicated to this cause is newsworthy. This is an endeavor that everyone needs to be involved in. It is even more unfortunate that some in the news media try to find any sort of negativity or malfeasance in the activity of a family that gives so much to the one and only Jewish state in the world and to numerous other charities benefiting thousands of individuals elsewhere. Nevertheless, we are undeterred and will continue to support the State of Israel, the Land of Israel, and its people.
This brings us to the final purpose of the article. That purpose is general intimidation.
Falic may not be intimidated by an AP hit job. But Blau and his editors can reasonably assume that other wealthy philanthropists are. Who wants an AP article published about his family and business that paints him as a fanatic just because he is a Zionist and supports causes most Israeli Jews support?
Over the past several years, the radical left has used public records of philanthropic endeavors to harm the fortunes and reputations of businessmen who support conservative causes. For instance, in 2014 Mozilla founder and CEO Brendan Eich was forced to resign his position after he was attacked for contributing to an organization that campaigned to support traditional marriage in California.
It is a sign of the increased legitimacy of Israel-bashing (and Israel-supporter-bashing) on the left that an American Jewish businessman is now being targeted for supporting Israel the way another American businessman was targeted five years ago for opposing gay marriage.
ABOUT CAROLINE GLICK
Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick’s work, visit carolineglick.com.
The US Treasury added three top Hezbollah figures to its list of sanctioned individuals on Tuesday, including two members of the Lebanese Parliament and a security official responsible for coordinating between Hezbollah and Lebanon’s security agencies.
It was the first time the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated a member of Lebanon’s Parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to terrorist organizations. Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
South African fans in Cairo celebrating their team’s win over Egypt at the African Cup of Nations. Photo: Reuters / Sumaya Hisham.
Three days after South Africa stunned the world of international soccer by knocking hosts Egypt out of the 2019 African Cup of Nations, the sound of elation remains clearly detectable in the voice of the team’s Jewish midfielder, Dean Furman.
“It was a fantastic victory, just fantastic,” Furman told The Algemeiner during a break in training on Tuesday, as South Africa prepared for its crucial quarterfinal game against Nigeria, another of the continent’s toughest sides, tomorrow.
Pieter van Oordt, left, with his brother, Roger, at the Israel
For the second time in recent history, a Dutch Christian organization dedicated to supporting Israel has gone head-to-head with the government. With their family tradition of belief in Israel that preceded the state of Israel by almost one hundred years, it seems unlikely that the van Oordts are about to back down, no matter what the odds.
Last month, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy made a request from the management of the Israel Products Center (IPC) to ensure they were in compliance with regulations adopted in 2015 by the European Commission requiring products made by Jewish owned companies in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and sections of Jerusalem to be labeled in a manner indicating their origins.
Studies have shown that dairy cows contribute large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the organisms living in their microbiomes.
Genetically modifying cows may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed world populations, a new study led by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggests.
“Our findings are both a major breakthrough for basic science and will have a positive impact on two major challenges facing the international community for the foreseeable future: climate change and food security,” Mizrahi said.
The decision by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to promote Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter reflects his future political aspirations.
Incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi walks out at the end of a handover ceremony where he replaces Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 15, 2019.
Israel has its own version of Napoleon’s famous saying, “Every soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his pack.” In these parts, every general carries a prime minister’s baton — or at least that of a defense minister — in his pack
As Islamist Watch has pointed out many times before, Islam is enormously diverse – containing many competing schools of theology, schools of jurisprudence, sects, ethnicities, cultures and mysticisms. Islamism is also not a single force; it comprises dozens of (both) competing and collaborating radical ideologies.
One of the most intriguing divisions, then, within both American Islam and Islamism of late has been growing dissent over the question of liberalism.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, I ran an article about how incredibly fake the news coverage was about his inauguration. (Those reading my site know I’m not a big Trump fan, but credit where credit is due and calling fake where calling fake is due.) The media was nothing short of spectacularly fake in the news it contrived that week on CNN, the New York Times and the other major fake media, and they mostly got away with it.
It wasn’t condescension or contempt. Recent remarks by former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit reek of racism. That is the proper way to frame them, calling them anything else is letting him off easy. In its classic, formal sense, racism is when a certain social sector perceives itself as superior because of clear racial criteria. Shavit represents an updated version of racism that doesn’t require ethnicity or religion as proof of a defect – you can call it “essential racism.”
Little Napoleon Barak is going to save Israeli Democracy? What a bunch of claptrap Orwellian doublespeak.
Well let’s check out history. How well did the original Napoleon save France’s democratic revolution against the monarchy?
Hmm, if I recall he crowned himself emperor!
For years, the pundits have been telling us that Israeli democracy is in danger because of the Arab birthrate, or because of the Jewish nation-state law, or because of the debates over the powers of Israel’s High Court.
I wonder if they will recognize the danger posed by the 10 left-wing American Jewish organizations that have formed a new umbrella organization, the essential purpose of which is to undermine Israeli democracy.