One U.S. Family Is Responsible for Half of Netanyahu's Donations

Owners of Duty Free America, a large chain of duty-free shops that operates in 13 airports, pledged half of NIS 330,000 Netanyahu raised.

Members of a single American family have donated half of the NIS 330,000 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has raised for his Likud party primary campaign in the past few weeks. Four members of the Falic family from Florida are responsible for contributing some NIS 165,000.

Of the nine donors that appear on the political contributions page on the state comptroller's website, seven gave over NIS 41,000 - very close to the maximum of NIS 43,280 that individuals are allowed to donate. Several of the donors have been mentioned in Channel 10's "Bibitours" investigative reports, according to which the prime minister may have allowed donors to finance his trips abroad, and allegedly billed a trip to two different sources.

Dudu Bachar

In April, Netanyahu and his wife Sara filed an NIS-3.5 million libel suit against Channel 10 over the reports.

The most prominent name among the prime minister's donors is that of the Falics, a well-known family that owns Duty Free Americas, a large chain of duty-free shops that operates in 13 airports and along the United States' northern and southern borders. At one point, the family also owned the Christian Lacroix fashion house.

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Nily Falic is the national president of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces in the United States; another family member, Jana Falic, is president of WIZO-USA.

The family members who contributed to Netanyahu were Nily's husband, Chaim, who passed away earlier this month; their son, Leon; another son, Jerome; and her daughter, Jana, along with her husband Simon. Each of them donated $11,000.

The Falics have contributed to Netanyahu before, giving him $15,000 in 2005. During previous primaries, the family also donated money to Limor Livnat and Shaul Mofaz.

The family has also become involved in U.S. elections, and in recent years has donated a total of more than $100,000 to various candidates, both Republicans and Democrats.

The Falic family was mentioned in one of the Channel 10 Bibitours investigations as a Netanyahu donor who had not been reported to the state comptroller. Netanyahu's lawyer said after the broadcast aired that some $15,000 had been returned to the family.

Among the other recent donors to Netanyahu's campaign is Joshua Rowe of Britain, who contributed 7,000 pounds, more than NIS 41,000. Rowe, the main funder and board chairman of the King David School in Manchester, gave NIS 38,000 to Netanyahu in 2007 and $8,000 in 2005.

Rowe was mentioned as funding a visit to London by the Netanyahus in 2006, when Netanyahu was the opposition leader - a trip whose total cost was reported to have been NIS 131,000.

Rowe subsequently defended Netanyahu, saying he had paid 15,000 pounds for the couple's hotel suite, and adding that Netanyahu had been very active during the trip, giving media interviews and raising money for Israel Bonds.

Another donation of $11,000 recently came from Nira Abramowitz who, together with husband Kenneth, sponsor the annual Israel Media Criticism Prize, which carries a cash award of $5,000. Winners have tended to be from the right side of the political spectrum, and have included the Latma website, Caroline Glick, Haggai Segal, Ben-Dror Yemini and others.

The other donors on the short list are Munik Rechtshafen from New York, Barry Ness of New York, and Ze'ev Gertler of London.

Netanyahu's rival in the Likud primary, Moshe Feiglin, has raised some NIS 155,000. A survey of Feiglin's donors shows enormous differences between the two: While Netanyahu has a list of relatively few foreign donors who have been contributing large sums - Feiglin's donors are mostly Israelis from Jerusalem, Haifa and Beit Shemesh whose contributions were far smaller, a few hundred shekels at most.

Haaretz could not obtain a response from Likud by press time.

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