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Reading About Soros, Putin, and Ailes on Rosh Hashanah

September 11, 2013 12:31 pm 0 comments

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Wiki Commons.

An anonymous person was once quoted as saying, “If you drop gold and books, pick up the books first, then the gold.” I also buy into the theory that books are the path to wisdom, riches, and much more. And I spent much of the Rosh Hashanah holiday reading biographies of people whose work is relevant to the Jewish community and Israel. I found each of the books to be quite educational.

George Soros is someone I have long considered to be a wicked genius. For many years, I shared an office building with the man, and recently completed reading an unauthorized biography entitled “Soros: The World’s Most Influential Investor,” by Robert Slater. Slater also wrote a definitive biography of the legendary Jack Welch.

While there can be no question that Soros has revolutionized certain aspects of investing and has made billions as a self-made man, he is perhaps as well known for his politics. And indeed, what is unique about him are his uber-liberal views, considering he is someone who made billions in a democratic, capitalist nation. The man has made a mint in America – yet claims “The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States.”

His uber-liberalism is commented upon extensively in the book, and one gains insight into what drives Soros. There is discussion of where he was during the Holocaust, and an explanation of Soros’ one-time statement: “European anti-Semitism is the result of the policies of Israel and the United States.” (Yes, Soros has indeed blamed the Jews for Anti-Semitism.)

As a business owner, I enjoy reading about self-made successful people. However, reading this book as a Jew and a capitalist, I found Soros to be even more despicable than I had initially thought him to be.

Another book I read, which I found to be chilling, reads much like a movie. Entitled “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin,” the book repeatedly describes Russian President Putin as a “dictator.” With a clear left of center political vantage point, the author tells scary stories about Putin (supplying opinions rather than facts), and provides insight into the mind of one of the world’s most powerful men.

Putin is often in the news these days. American-Russian relations are at their lowest point in many years, and Putin is backing the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad – to the vast annoyance of America – without any sign of backing down. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in better understanding the former KGB officer and trying to understand where Putin may lead Russia, America, and the world.

The third biography I read this weekend, “Roger Ailes: Off Camera,” was written by Ze’ev Chafets, the acclaimed Israeli-American journalist, who founded the Jerusalem Report Magazine. Chafets’ biography of Ailes is unauthorized, and is essentially an ode to Roger Ailes. Ailes is credited with single-handedly building the most successful TV network in the U.S. (Fox has higher ratings – and profits – than all of the other cable news networks combined.)

Chafets’ book provides behind the scenes stories at Fox News. As someone who works extensively with Fox, and has done public relations work in the past for them, I found these insights fascinating. While it is apparent that Chafets likes Ailes, it is also telling that Ailes comes across as a quite likable person. Even those who disagree with him politically are quoted repeatedly as praising him.

Indeed, throughout the book, the hard working, take no-prisoners, honest nature of Ailes is quite apparent.

As CEO of 5WPR, an award-winning PR Agency, I know it’s important to do what you love. And its noteworthy that employees of Fox News generally love working there, according to the book.

I have had many a meal in the private cafeteria at Fox, and the intense desire of the employees to win is apparent. Similarly, Ailes’ driving focus on winning is recounted throughout the book. Before Fox News, America was dominated by liberal media, and thanks to Ailes that has changed.

And indeed, Fox News (and of course Roger Ailes) should be thanked by all Israel-supporters for their fair and balanced coverage of Israel. Unlike many others in the media, that outlet is fair to Israel. As Ailes’ boss, Rupert Murdoch, said in 2011, “the media…is the soft war that seeks to isolate Israel by delegitimizing it. The battle ground is everywhere – the media, multinational organizations, NGOs. In this war, the aim is to make Israel a pariah.” It is a great book, and one that makes one respect Fox News and Ailes even more.

Reading opens the soul and teaches us so much. As Jewish sage Judah ben Saul ibn Tibbon once urged, “Cover your bookcases with rugs and linens of fine quality; preserve them from dampness and mice and injury; for it is your books that are your true treasure.”

Ronn Torossian is an avid reader – who is also an entrepreneur and author of the best-selling PR book “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations.”

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