[The week of the 4th of July] 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.
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.
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.
It continued: “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.
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….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.