The Associated Press asked Simon Falic, who owns the chain of Duty Free Americas stores with his two brothers, about the family’s philosophy about giving to charity. Here is his full response:
“The overriding philosophy of our family comes from the Bible, which establishes the creation of all humanity in G-d’s image. Every Jew has an obligation to give 10% of his or her income to charity. As a family, we are proud to donate to many causes that are important to us, including Children’s Tumor Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, and other important and noble organizations.
We have a strong love and connection to Israel and its people. As Yehuda HaLevi said, ‘My heart is in the East.’ As such, my family and I have been fortunate to support great organizations that affect lives in Israel, including the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO), which is dedicated to social welfare in all sectors of Israeli society and is focused primarily on underprivileged children and battered women, as well as ALEH, which provides medical, educational and rehabilitative care for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and medical complications. We also are honored to donate to the Friends of the IDF (FIDF), which supports the welfare of Israel’s soldiers during their army service and, in many instances, afterward.
I also firmly believe that Jews have the right to live anywhere in the world. For that reason, the idea that the mere existence of Jewish life in any geographical area is an impediment to peace makes no sense to us. We are proud to support organizations that help promote Jewish life all over the land of Israel, including the capital of King David and King Solomon, Jerusalem; the first capital of the Land of Israel, Shiloh; the burial place of our patriarchs and matriarchs, Hebron — and everywhere in between. It is important to note that the promotion of Jewish life, in our opinion, does not and should not imply the exclusion of anyone else, including Christians and Muslims. We believe deeply in respect for all people.
While hundreds of rockets continue to be fired indiscriminately at innocent civilians in Israel, it is imperative that we all do what we can to strengthen and ensure the safety of the State of Israel. My family and I endeavor to help those who need it most, to build institutions, and to continue to support Jewish life throughout the entire Land of Israel.
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.”