Most of the family funds to Israeli non-profits arrived from Panama Based Companies
Last November, a suspicious fire broke out at a school in bi-lingual school in Jerusalem that teaches students in both Hebrew and Arabic. Slogans like “there is no co-existence with cancer’’ were spray-painted on the walls. A classroom was trashed.
Soon after, Israeli authorities announced the arrest of three members of Lehava, an ultra-nationalist group well known in for its campaign against “assimilation” and marriages between Arabs and Jews. Investigators said the young men had attacked the school because it was a place “Jews and Arabs learn together.’’
Israeli police also arrested Bentzi Gopstein, public spokesperson and key figure of the group, together with 9 other members, in suspicion of incitement and calls for acts of violence motivated by racism.
The financial aspect of Lehava’s activity has been a mystery. Direct support to the group is problematic, as no legal entity operates under that name. However, Bentzi Gopstein, public spokesperson and key figure of the group, is a founder and board member in an Israeli fund with similar agenda to that of Lehava.
According to public documents in Israel and interviews, this fund received significant support from a trio of American brothers who are also among the largest to donors to the re-election campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In a 2011 investigation published at Haaretz journalist Shai Greenberg and I revealed that some money was flowing to Lehava’s activists through a non-profit called “Hemla” which is funded by Israel’s welfare ministry.
“There is no official Lehava organization” said Gopstein in an interview in August of 2014. ”There are no donations to Lehava. I refer people who wants to support the anti-assimilation struggle to ‘The Fund for Saving the People of Israel’, as this is one of the fund’s causes”.
The fund’s agenda is similar to the one promoted by Lehave, and includes preventing inter-marriage and assimilation, as well as helping people who have been victims of crimes by asylum seekers and assist the underprivileged. It was founded in late 2010 by a group of right-wing activists who now serve as its board members.
Levy Hazan, one of the founders, was imprisoned for his part in the shooting of a bus north of Ramallah in which six Palestinians were wounded, in 1984. Gopstein, another founder, was arrested in connection with an attacked happened shortly after the assassination of Meir Kahane. That killing was never solved and Gopstein was not charged in the case. In 1994, Israeli authorities put him in administrative detention’’ for participating in Kach organization, at the time an illegal act. Other founders also have strong affiliation to Kach, a political movement of the extreme right which was banned by the Israeli government in 1988 for racist practices, and outlawed outright after a member of the group participated in a 1994 massacre of Palestinians. Kach is also considered a terrorist organization in the U.S. and in the E.U.
Simon, Jerome and Leon Falic, the owners of Duty Free Americas, are major political players in both Israel in the United States.
In recent months, ahead of the coming elections in Israel, four members of the Falic family together donated a $45,000 to Netanyahu’s campaign, the largest amount allowed by Israeli law. An article published last year by “The Investigative Post” found that the brothers and 12 other family members had contributed a total of $1.76 million to various campaigns and PACs in the U.S.
The family also supports Israeli non-profits. Records show donations to “The Fund for Saving the People of Israel” (“Hakeren Lehazalat Am Israel”, in Hebrew) have come almost entirely from the Falics. Between 2011-2012 the fund received 237000 Shekels, almost $60,000, from an Israeli based fund called “The Segal Fund for Israel”. Financial reports state the fund used donations for “Professional meetings, grants and ‘Kamcha De Pascha’ (food for the underprivileged)”.
Simon, Jerome and Leon Falic are the board members of The Segal fund, opened in 2007. The fund funnels $1-2 million dollars a year to Israeli groups, some based in the West Bank.
Back in the U.S. the family run an American non-profit under their name, “The Falic Family Foundation”, with over $2 million donations in 2012.
Segal Fund chairman, Yotam Bar-Hama, an Israeli businessman, said in a phone call that he does not remember the specific donation to The Fund for Saving the People of Israel. He had no comment as for why the donations to the fund arrived via Panama. Ann Heart, an Israeli who is listed as another Segal fund member, said she is a friend of the Falic family and has been asked to sign documents, but is not involved in the fund activity.
Gopstein refused to comment to this article.
Simon Falic sent his response in his individual capacity, and not on behalf of the entire Falic family: “The Falic Family Foundation is an American 501(c)(3), incorporated in the State of Florida, which supports and contributes to a wide variety of charities, including but not limited to, Simon Weisenthal Foundation, Freedom Alliance, National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Women’s International Zionist Organization, Children’s Tumor Foundation, Christians United for Israel, Eva Longoria Foundation, Chabad, and various hospitals. The Falic Family Foundation is unrelated to Ueta Tzedakah and IBW Tzedakah. Those entities are based in Panama, which is where a number of members of my extended family reside.
The Segal Fund is a registered Amuta (Hebrew for non-profit U.B.) which only funds organizations that have all the proper documentation (a copy of Rishum Amuta, Ishur Minhal Takin, Ishur Nihul Sefarim, Ishur Nikue Mas Bamakor (Legal terminology relevant to non-profits in Israel U.B)). I am aware that the Segal Fund has donated to organizations such as Colel Chabad, WIZO, the Koby Mandell Foundation, Hatzalah, Hadassah Hospital, Shaarei Tzedek, Aleh, and many other organizations in Israel.
I am committed to giving tzedakah to causes which I care about deeply, such as the well-being and continuity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I believe that it is important for Jews to be connected to our roots, our history and our homeland, and to take care of one another. Through my philanthropy, I try to support causes which, among other things, help to accomplish these important goals.
I believe in diversity, co-existence and integration, as opposed to “anti-assimilation,” but I recognize that this can occur only when each person holds strongly to his or her own ideals, ideologies, religion and convictions. As Tevye succinctly put it in Fiddler on the Roof, “As the Good Book says, ‘Each shall seek his own kind.’ In other words, a bird may love a fish, but where would they build a home together?” In summary, staying true to one’s beliefs can not only give meaning to one’s own life, but can influence the conscience of others to make more sound choices and better judgments, including living together in peace and harmony.
Finally, although I respect your right to publish an article about any topic you choose, I urge you not to forget that you have an obligation, both moral and legal, to publish only true, accurate and verified information. Any defamatory statements or innuendo will be met with immediate legal action.