April 12, 2007
Sam Zell is one tough Jew
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Even with the changes, there was something sedate, non-Jewish, about the Times. It was too dignified for a newspaper, too conscious of its long history. From the busts of the Chandlers in the Globe Lobby to the reception and dining rooms on the sixth floor, gravitas was deeply embedded in a building put up in 1934 during the era of rich WASP L.A. supremacy. Zell doesn't seem like that kind of a press baron. Neither does Geffen.
A final thought: What will this mean for the Jews? It's hard to tell. On a visit to Israel, Zell spoke to the Israel Center for Social and Independent Process, a pro-market think tank. He definitely was on the free market track, more Likud than Labor.
Zell said that the fact that the Israeli government accounts for some 55 percent of gross domestic product makes the Israeli market less attractive, according to an article on the center's Web Site (www.icsep.org.il/en/guests).
"The more the government spends, the less for the private sector," he said. "In the U.S., business comes first and government follows. Here the government comes first, and the business community comes afterwards. Israel has great human resources, but besides the venture capital industry, there is nobody that will fund traditional industries."
The Center for Public Integrity reported that he has given more than $100,000 in political contributions since 1968, most of it to Republican causes. His wife, Helen, gave more than $50,000 in her own name, most of it to abortion rights groups and Democrats, including Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who has received $17,500 from her.
I wouldn't draw any conclusions from all this except to say Zell is a tough Jew. More importantly, he's an enigma, and we have no idea of what he has in mind for the Times.
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