Connect with us


Robert Maxwell was a publishing magnate – and a crook, but what else may he have been?

The newest biography of Robert Maxwell
Maxwell with his youngest (and favourite)
child, Ghislaine Maxwell

By BERNIE BELLAN A few weeks back, during one of the weekly bike excursions that a group of men (and occasionally women) go on every Tuesday during the summer, I happened to be talking to one of the members of our group, the ageless Mickey Hoch. (I had profiled Mickey in the April 3, 2019 issue of this paper.)
Mickey asked me whether I knew that there was a new biography out of famed media tycoon Robert Maxwell? When I said that I didn’t know that, Mickey added: “He was my first cousin.”


Mickey Hoch – Robert Maxwell’s
first cousin, although Mickey
says they never knew each other

Robert Maxwell a cousin of Mickey Hoch? Now that was something I just had to find out more about. So, in short order, I bought this latest biography of Robert Maxwell, which is titled “Fall – The Mystery of Robert Maxwell”, by journalist John Preston.
There have been reams of material already published about Robert Maxwell – and although it’s been 30 years since his mysterious death from aboard his yacht, the “Lady Ghislaine”(pronounced Gee-Layn), the escapades of his notorious daughter – the very same Ghislaine, have kept the name Maxwell in the news long after Robert Maxwell’s death.
But to think that Maxwell’s real name was Jan Ludvik Hoch and that he was a first cousin of Mickey Hoch, well – that was something I found so intriguing I just had to dive into this new biography to learn much more about a man who was larger than life in so many respects.

I’m not sure how much more Preston has uncovered in this newest biography of someone about whom so much has been written. Frankly, I had trouble keeping track of all the names that were mentioned throughout the book, often wondering just what was that particular person’s relationship to Maxwell again?
What intrigued me more than anything, however, was Maxwell’s discomfort with his Jewish heritage. For years he disavowed ever having been Jewish, but late in his life he seemed to have done a complete about face and was more than eager to associate himself with his Jewish heritage.
Apparently there were two seminal moments in Maxwell’s life that led to this grand reawakening: One was in 1984, when he was already 61 and was persuaded to go on a trip to Israel for the first time in his life. It was during that trip – and a meeting with then Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, that Maxwell decided he was going to become a fervent supporter of the State of Israel. He told Shamir that he was going to become the largest individual investor in the state – and he did, actually investing $50,000,000.
It was also during a visit to Yad Vashem that Maxwell seems to have come to grips with the awful calamity that befell almost his entire family.
Here is how Preston describes that visit: “With his head lowered and his hands plunged into his jacket pockets, he walked through canyons of stone blocks bearing the names of communities that had been wiped out. Stopping in front of one of the blocks, he pointed at the lettering. ‘At the bottom is the shtetl Solotvino where I come from,’ he said. ‘It is no more. It was poor, it was Orthodox and it was Jewish. We were very poor. We didn’t have things that other people had. They had shoes and they had food and we didn’t. At the end of the War, I discovered the fate of my parents and my sisters and brothers, relatives and neighbours. I don’t know what went through their minds as they realized they had been tricked into a gas chamber. But one thing they hoped is that they will not be forgotten …’ Tears welled up in Maxwell’s eyes as he glanced towards the sky. Barely able to speak, he managed to add: ‘And this memorial in Jerusalem proves that.’ Overcome, he walked away.”
Later, Maxwell also paid a visit to his birthplace in Solotvino, which had been part of Czechoslovaki when Maxwell was born, but later became a part of Hungary. Maxwell described his childhood as so impoverished that he was hungry almost all the time.

That impoverished childhood, followed by his managing to escape Czechoslovakia while all but two of his nine siblings – along with his parents, were murdered in Auschwitz, also seems to have traumatized Maxwell for life, although he would never admit it.
And, while reading about Maxwell’s business exploits and his duplicitous nature is certainly interesting, it is the aspect of Maxwell remaking himself into a non-Jew, then making a 180 degree turn the other way that I think most Jewish readers will find most fascinating.
Not only was Maxwell able to adopt a different persona depending upon the occasion, and switch languages with ease (he actually spoke nine different languages), it also seems that he himself had difficulty knowing who exactly he was.
At one point Preston reveals that Maxwell changed his name to DuMaurier, pretending to be French. Why DuMaurier? Because he liked the cigarettes.
As well, Maxwell seems to have been quite fearless. He was decorated with the Military Cross by Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery in 1945 for, among other things, wiping out a German machine gun nest single handedly.
He was also very good looking when he was younger – and quite fit. As the years went on, however, Maxwell’s voracious appetite for food led to his becoming quite obese. As a matter of fact, he was so large upon his death that his coffin could not be fitted into his own private jet and a special plane that is designed especially to carry coffins had to be arranged to take him to Israel, which is where he had wanted to be buried.

Preston interviewed several individuals who described Maxwell’s insatiable appetite. One amusing anecdote is about a lunch that was served in Maxwell’s private dining room at his headquarters. The main course was leg of lamb. Maxwell’s guest that particular day was served first, and he asked for the knuckle of the leg, which was placed on his plate. That guest was momentarily preoccupied by discussing something with another guest who was seated beside him, but when he turned to start eating his meal, he saw that Maxwell had grabbed his own serving from his plate and was proceeding to devour it.
The author suggests that it was Maxwell’s impoverished childhood, when there was never enough food to go around, that led him to develop an insatiable appetite. In fact, according to those who knew Maxwell best, including his wife Betty, he would control himself for the most part when he was with guests in his own home, but later in the evening he would ransack the “larder”. Things got so bad that locks would be put on the larder, but Maxwell’s enormous strength didn’t prevent him from breaking down the door to get at the food.

While Maxwell was certainly a genius at business, helping to build many different companies, including book publishers, newspapers, and the MTV television network, it is not clear what drove him to want to be, as he himself would say, “the world’s richest man”.
Clearly there was an obsession with being accepted by the British Establishment which, while eager to benefit from his business deals, for the most part regarded Maxwell as an “outsider”. It doesn’t seem though that the antagonism that was so often expressed toward Maxwell had much to do with his Jewish roots as Preston does not refer to any antisemitic remarks directed Maxwell’s way.
Ultimately, Maxwell became a fervent supporter of a multitude of Jewish causes, especially the State of Israel. Preston describes a somewhat hilarious scene at Maxwell’s state funeral in Israel when two rabbis physically fought over who was going to be able to mount the podium to deliver a speech praising Maxwell as their prime benefactor.
Yet, there was something else that Mickey Hoch had told me about Maxwell that quite interested me – which was that Maxwell had reputedly worked for the Mossad. The book does reference Maxwell’s helping to arrange the departure of several Jewish “refuseniks” from the USSR, but Preston doesn’t indicae that this had anything to do with the Mossad.
Mickey Hoch (who, by the way, said that he had never met his cousin) also suggested that the Mossad had assassinated Maxwell. There has actually been a book published which makes that claim, but not once in Preston’s book does he even raise that as a possibility.
The book does discuss Maxwell’s incredible network of associates, including the leaders of a great many countries. And, while Maxwell did seem to have had very close associations with a great many dictators, especially behind what was then the Iron Curtain, the notion that has often been raised that Maxwell may also have been an agent for the KGB is given relatively short shrift. (Maxwell did have a close association with Mikhail Gorbachev, also with Boris Yeltsin. At the same time though, Maxwell was twice elected to the British House of Commons as a Labour MP, and seems to have been genuinely appreciative of Western democratic norms.)

Maxwell’s reputation was totally sullied following his death, however, when it emerged that he had ransacked the pension funds of his employees to the tune of £750,000,000. He may not have been the first crook to climb his way to the pinnacle of the business establishment, but he was certainly among the worst.
There has been so much speculation as to whether Maxwell actually jumped off his yacht or simply slipped (apparently he liked to urinate over the side at night, so it’s quite possible that he might have slipped doing that) that it will probably be fodder for more books for years to come.
Still, the question that intrigued me more than anything was the degree to which Maxwell’s impoverished childhood and surviving the Holocaust led him to becoming the legendary businessman – and scoundrel, that he ultimately became. If he hadn’t died under such mysterious circumstances, no doubt he would have spent the rest of his days fending off legal issues related to his brazen skullduggery.
This entire review, I haven’t even mentioned that, of all Maxwell’s nine children, his favourite was Ghislaine. How interesting is it that Ghislaine was the daughter of a financial rogue who was one of the greatest con men of all time, and that she ended up partnering with another notorious rogue, Jeffrey Epstein. No doubt the mysteries surrounding the deaths of both these scoundrels will haunt us for years to come.


Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


Popularity of Online Casino Games in Canada

In recent years, the popularity of online casino games in Canada has surged, captivating the attention of a diverse audience seeking thrilling entertainment. With the convenience of accessing these games from the comfort of home, Canadians are exploring the vast world of virtual casinos that offer an extensive array of gaming options.

Diverse Selection of Casino Games:

One of the key factors contributing to the widespread appeal of online casino games in Canada is the vast selection available. There are hundreds of top casino games online, covering every genre imaginable. From classic table games like poker and blackjack to immersive slot machines with captivating themes, Canadian players have a plethora of options to choose from.

The Rise of Online Slots:

Among the various casino games, online slots have witnessed a significant surge in popularity. The ease of gameplay and the potential for substantial payouts make slots a preferred choice for both seasoned players and newcomers. With themes ranging from ancient civilisations to popular movies and TV shows, online slots offer a diverse and engaging experience for players of all preferences.

Convenience and Accessibility:

The accessibility of online casino games is a key driver behind their growing popularity in Canada. Players no longer need to travel to a physical casino to experience the thrill of gambling. Instead, they can enjoy their favourite games with just a few clicks on their computer or mobile device. This convenience has opened up the world of online gambling to a broader audience, attracting both seasoned gamblers and those trying their luck for the first time.

Technology Advancements:

Advancements in technology have played a pivotal role in enhancing the online casino gaming experience. High-quality graphics, realistic sound effects, and seamless gameplay contribute to an immersive environment that mirrors the excitement of traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. Additionally, the integration of live dealer games brings an authentic touch to online gaming, allowing players to interact with real dealers in real-time.

Regulatory Environment:

The regulatory environment in Canada has also contributed to the popularity of online casino games. While each province has its own regulations, the overall legal framework allows for a thriving online gambling industry. This has given rise to reputable online casinos that prioritise player safety and adhere to strict industry standards, ensuring a fair and secure gaming environment.

Social Aspect and Community Engagement:

Online casinos in Canada are not just about individual gameplay; they also provide a platform for social interaction. Many online casinos feature chat rooms and community forums where players can connect, share experiences, and discuss strategies. This sense of community adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the gaming experience, making online casinos a social activity beyond the solitary pursuit of winning.

The popularity of online casino games in Canada is undoubtedly on the rise, driven by a combination of diverse gaming options, convenience, technological advancements, and a favourable regulatory environment. With a wide array of top casino games available at their fingertips, Canadians can indulge in the excitement of gambling from the comfort of their homes. As the online casino industry continues to evolve, it’s clear that virtual gaming is here to stay and will likely continue to captivate audiences across the country.

Continue Reading


Life in Israel four months after October seventh

Orly & Solly Dreman


(Special to the JP&N) Feb. 1, 2024

In every news broadcast that we hear that “The IDF spokesman is permitted to announce”… then every person in Israel sits down, holds their breath and waits to hear the names of the soldiers fallen in action that day. This causes deep sadness to every family in Israel. For example, I found out the son of my T.V technician was killed and my handyman’s son was seriously injured. Death in Israel is so personal.

Our synagogue recently mourned twenty seven year old Inbar Heiman who was kidnapped by Hamas from the Nova music nature party on October seventh and was murdered in captivity. She was a gifted young woman filled with love and compassion. She was a creative artist that was supposed to enter her senior year at university this academic year. We had prayed and wished that she would return until her family received the tragic news of her death.

When we made personal medical visits to the Hadassah hospital, we often heard helicopters overhead bringing in wounded soldiers from Gaza. In the surgery department we saw a reserve soldier being released after six weeks in the hospital. His wife and newborn baby were with him. The department had a touching farewell gathering with Israeli flags, music and cakes. This is how every soldier who leaves the hospital is treated. More than fourteen thousand civilians and soldiers were hospitalized since October seventh with most of the injuries being in the hands and legs, burns, head and eye injuries.

We seldom are in the mood to go to a restaurant these days, but if we do, such outings are accompanied by guilt feelings. Is it right to go when our people are suffering?- the hostages are starving. We all wear the metal disc that says “Bring Them Home now- Our hearts are captured in Gaza”. They occupy our thoughts pervasively. Some of the hostages have suffered untreated gunshot wounds and the hygiene conditions are poor, many of them not showering for four months, sitting thirty meters under the ground in dark tunnels, with no electricity and suffering from extreme malnutrition. Some of them have diseases like Celiac, Asthma, Colitis, Diabetes, Fibromialgia, heart diseases and allergies. They are getting no medications and time is running out for them. Twenty five of them have already perished. What sort of civil society will we be if we abandon them?

Whole families are recruited for combat duty in different areas of the country. It might be a brother and a sister fighting in Gaza or a father in Judea and Samaria while another brother is fighting on the Lebanese border. If you ask soldiers who have lost their siblings in combat if they wish to go back to fight after the shiva, they do not hesitate, even though it is so hard on the parents. This demonstrates the dedication of Israeli citizens and their wish to complete the task of exterminating the Hamas, while at the same time knowing their family member did not die in vain. The grief is intergenerational and we are even acquainted with grandparents whose grandchildren are in combat and they are given the opportunity to go to workshops that help them with their anxiety.

In a Knesset Committee it was recently reported That many survivors from the Nova party have taken their own lives. Others continue to experience the trauma of the horrific events. They cannot sleep nor eat. Many were sexually abused and even though they were not murdered they continue to experience the pain- the sights, voices- cries for help and the fear. They are in a sense also fighters who awaken to a new existence everyday and continue to fight for their existence.

At the military cemeteries there is one funeral process after another and the families are asked to leave the site to make room to prepare for the next funeral. Wounded soldiers arrive in ambulances, on hospital beds or wheelchairs in order to eulogize their fallen comrades.

The reservists who return home after months of combat are having troubles adjusting because this war, like the War of Independence, is very meaningful. It is the most justified war our homeland has encountered. Upon their return there is a big downfall in physical and mental energy. A stranger cannot understand this. These soldiers were disconnected from normal civilian routine for a long time and they had difficult and intimate experiences with their combat mates. They have lost friends and did not have time to mourn. They must release the stress they were exposed to. They are back in body but not always in spirit. They also might be recruited again in the near future to the southern or the northern front, the war is not over. Many men who were injured worry about their future fertility and sexual functioning.

They entertain such existential thoughts as would it be better that I am killed in action before I have children and leave no descendants, or losing my life and leaving behind orphans. Dozens of children remain orphaned from both parents. They also have witnessed their family members being murdered and their homes burned down. Years ago, Solly treated and did a follow up on a family where both parents were murdered in a terrorist attack. Even though the children were adopted by loving relatives they suffered from survivor guilt and this expressed itself in such phenomena as dropping out of school, turning into juvenile delinquents and having trouble in intimate relations.

The evacuees from the south and the north are dispersed in hundreds of hotels in the center of the country. Hence, they have no permanent home, have no privacy and many have no work, nothing to do for months on end and experience feelings of powerlessness. Some pupils are not capable of returning to their temporary schools because of anxieties, depression and fear. Some teenagers have turned to drugs and alcohol which increases violence and vandalism. For them school is experienced as a waste of time. Their friends were murdered, some still have relatives in captivity and everything is falling apart. They also experience sleep disruptions and are in no mood to study. For them life is a living hell. Some families are moved from city to city several times. The children do not have friends in the new locations and they feel lonely and express a lack of social support.

In the realm of parenting many mothers even those who were NOT directly exposed to the dramatic events reported that their children cry more (eighty three percent). Others say the children have difficulties sleeping (seventy three percent), have concentration problems (fifty four percent) and many children are developing eating disorders. In sixty percent the anxiety of the children is so high it hurts functioning. For example, they are often afraid to leave the house. Other disturbances were reported such as bed-wetting, insisting on sleeping with their parents and acts of anger and aggression.

We, as Israelis are also concerned with our Jewish brethren who are experiencing thousands of antisemitic incidents, higher than the number of all incidents in the last decade. There are many Jews in the diaspora who are considering emigration to Israel after experiencing antisemitic events such as seeing their synagogue, Hebrew school, kosher butcher and other Jewish businesses being stoned and burned. For them Israel is their safest haven.

On a more optimistic note the Jewish people have prevailed over thousands of years despite terrible events. In spite of the uncertainty not everything is lost. We are united and strong. The soldiers are full of motivation and good values. I firmly believe that if we are patient and persist, the Jewish people and the state of Israel will prevail.

Orly Dreman is a 10th generation Israeli. Her cousin, Ruvi Rivlin, was a former president of Israel. Orly’s father was a diplomat who served both in North America and in Europe.
By profession Orly is an English teacher. She has dealt with children suffering from ADD.
Since childhood, Orly has been involved in voluntary work with the disabled, the challenged, new immigrants, the elderly and others. 

Continue Reading


The Critical Job Roles in Online Business

More companies than ever are embracing remote working. As of 2023, around 16% of businesses have a fully remote working model, with many more adopting a hybrid one. All of this should come as welcome news to anyone looking for a better work-life balance. As well as saying goodbye to grueling commutes, remote employees can embrace lucrative salary packages, generous benefits, and more. Ready to reap the benefits of online work yourself? Below are just a handful of remote working opportunities to consider.

Video Game and Casino Platform Development

Whether it’s creating Canadian online slots for real money casinos or an open-world epic, great games need talented developers. Thankfully, this is one sector where the typical rules of the 9-5 don’t apply. In the US, an experienced game developer can expect to take home around $103,000 annually. For a midweight casino games developer, a starting salary of around $65,000 is fairly respectable.

Software Engineering

If you have a background in software engineering, you’re in luck. Currently, it’s one of the highest-paid online roles around, with an average salary of $108,000. There’s no one size-fits-all remit for a software engineer, but typical roles include designing applications, testing, and creating system upgrades.

UX Design

User experience is becoming increasingly important as companies strive to make their digital products more accessible. Unsurprisingly, there’s a high demand for user experience designers, with many positions now advertised as remote-first roles. You’ll need to have sufficient software and development experience to excel here. What’s more, you’ll need to work closely with clients to meet the needs of the consumer. If you think you could do well in a role like this, expect an annual salary in the region of $97,000.

Web Design

One role you’ll never struggle to find is that of a web designer. It’s a pretty broad field, so expect a lot of disparity when it comes to job remits and starting salaries. At a minimum, a web designer worth their salt should be able to create accessible websites for a wide range of clients. You’ll also need to be familiar with coding languages and testing. Less experienced web designers can expect to command a starting salary of around $43,000. If you’ve been working professionally for more than a few years and have a solid portfolio to back you up, you can easily negotiate twice that amount.

Entry-Level Online Roles

For digital natives, remote working will come as second nature. Don’t have the skills to land a web designer or developer job? Not to worry. There are an increasing number of entry-level remote roles out there.

Customer service roles are readily available, with positions to cater to all experience levels. At the bottom rung of the ladder, you might be tasked with making sales calls or resolving complaints from customers. A customer service agent can comfortably make around $40-50,000 a year. If you operate on a commission basis or can take advantage of a generous bonus scheme, you could easily double this annually.

Is Remote Working Here To Stay?

Even as many businesses encourage workers back to the office, there’s an deniable upward trend in the number of remote and hybrid-only roles on the job market. Video conferencing technology and collaboration tools are making it easier than ever for remote teams to remain connected. Meanwhile, company executives are finding it hard to argue with significantly reduced overheads and increased productivity.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News