As we all know, it’s primary season—and in Israel, too, where the Likud Party, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, is holding its leadership election on January 31. (The main opposition party, Kadima, will have its own ballot in March.) There, as here, waging an election battle takes money, and unsurprisingly, Netanyahu has managed to raise twice as much as his closest rival, Moshe Feiglin—the bulk of it, about $86,000, from a single family in Florida, the Falic clan, owners of the Duty Free Americas empire and supporters, in the Republican primaries, of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
The family has long given generously to American politicians—more than $900,000 over the last two cycles, according to OpenSecrets. As is relatively common for canny businesspeople, they give across partisan lines, supporting both national committees as well as individual candidates who are diametrically opposed to each other. This year, for example, Jerome Falic, CEO of Duty Free Americas, maxed out his giving to Rep. Eric Cantor, a Republican and the House Majority Leader, and to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the Democratic National Committee.
But when it comes to presidential politics, the family has consistently gone Republican. In 2007, several family members supported former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s primary bid, and then ponied up for Sen. John McCain in the general election. And, now, Perry. The erstwhile Texas governor raised $20,000 from two generations of the family last September, and, so far, remains the only presidential candidate to win their support. This despite the fact that he has not been considered a seriously competitive candidate since about October.
It’s not clear that their enthusiasm has had any effect on Bibi’s affections. Only a few days after their donations cleared Perry’s accounts, Bibi went on CNN to criticize a member of his own party, Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon, for appearing alongside Perry at a pro-Israel campaign event in New York. “When I get to the point that I can control Knesset, including in my own party, it’ll be a good day,” Netanyahu told Wolf Blitzer. His donors, though, not so much.
Allison Hoffman is a senior editor at Tablet Magazine. Her Twitter feed is @allisont_dc.