December 13, 2001 at 12:20:36 PST
JDL Leader Had History of Confrontation
That includes Arabs, neo-Nazis, evangelizing Christians - even fellow Jews who do not share his eye-for-an-eye brand of extremism.
"Those critics of JDL's action have no concept of righteous anger," Rubin said on the group's Web site. "They prefer to be targets; they love tears and sympathy; they stand up for the rights of their killers."
On Wednesday, Rubin and a fellow member of the militant JDL were charged with plotting to bomb the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City and the San Clemente office of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., an Arab-American. The defendants' lawyers denied the charges.
The burly, 56-year-old former Air Force sergeant and conservative Republican joined the JDL early in the 1970s and moved up quickly, becoming chairman in 1985.
He opposes gun control. Last year, he urged Jews across the country to arm themselves in the face of violence against minorities.
Rubin was arrested in 1972 for investigation of attempted murder after someone fired three shots at an American Nazi Party leader in El Monte, but the charges were dismissed, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In 1978, he offered $500 to anyone who "kills, maims or seriously injures" a member of the American Nazi Party.
According to his biography, Rubin learned to fight back against anti-Semitism while growing up in Montreal, "where some hotel owners and other business people hung signs reading `No Dogs or Jews Allowed' on their doors and where French Canadian schoolchildren taunted him because he was Jewish."
His family came to the United States in 1961, and he became a U.S. citizen and joined the Air Force in 1966, serving four years. In 1973 he served in Israel's civil defense corps during the Yom Kippur War.
Rubin has no love for the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, declaring in 1995: "It's not a peace process. It's suicide."
In 1999, Rubin and others clashed with skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. He also came to blows with Klansmen on "The Jerry Springer Show."
Last year, Rubin and others burned Nazi and Confederate flags in Reno, Nev., in a demonstration held a day after five white supremacists pleaded guilty to the attempted firebombing of a synagogue in 1999.
By his own count, Rubin has been arrested more than 40 times.
"I found him to be a particularly vile character. He seemed to me to be ... unstable and someone who does not shy away from force," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino.
After the center listed the JDL as a hate group last year, Rubin deluged Levin with calls, threatening to sue and calling Levin "a lousy Jew," the professor of criminal justice said.
The JDL symbol is a raised fist inside a Star of David, and its motto is "Never Again," referring to the murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. The organization was founded in 1968 by Meir Kahane to mount an armed response to anti-Semitic acts in New York City.
The JDL claims nearly 13,000 members nationwide but probably has only a few dozen active members, Levin said.
"They're extremists. They really have been marginalized. None of the credible (Jewish) groups would have anything to do with these people," he said.
The group gained notoriety when its members were linked to bombings in the United States, most of them aimed at Soviet targets in retaliation for the way that country treated its Jews.
The group was suspected in a 1985 bombing in Santa Ana that killed Arab anti-discrimination leader Alex Odeh, but no arrests were ever made.
Levin said Rubin told him last year that the group had changed its violent image.
"He kept saying, `Well, that was past, we're different now. We haven't been implicated in any violent acts for years,'" Levin said.
The Globe and Mail
Roots of a militant lie in Montreal
By INGRID PERITZ
Thursday, December 13, 2001 – Print Edition, Page A1
MONTREAL -- Irv Rubin became a radical in California, but the path that led him there began 56 years ago in Montreal.
Mr. Rubin, arrested yesterday in Los Angeles for an alleged bomb plot against a mosque, has often said that the seeds for his militant beliefs were planted on the streets of Montreal, where he experienced his first taste of anti-Semitism.
Mr. Rubin became chairman of the Jewish Defense League but never let his sights stray far from his hometown -- even though his confrontational creed did not find a receptive audience there.
He has repeatedly declared plans to open Jewish Defense League chapters in Montreal, only to be given the cold shoulder.
"The Jewish community of Montreal completely rejects hate-inciting groups," David Birnbaum, head of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec region, said yesterday. "There's no place for the Jewish Defense League in Quebec. There are sentiments of anti-Semitism around the world, but it's not true that the situation is more aggravated in Quebec."
Mr. Rubin left Montreal for southern California with his parents when he was 15. In 1971, he heard a speech by JDL founder Rabbi Meir Kahane, a seminal moment that transformed him.
"If you see a Nazi," he recalled Mr. Kahane saying, "don't try to convince him you're a nice guy." Instead, Mr. Kahane told his listeners, "smash him."
The moment transformed Mr. Rubin from a self-described "nice Jewish boy who obeyed every law" to a radical linked to violence and arrested more than 40 times.
The JDL was set up by Mr. Kahane to mount armed response to anti-Semitism in New York. Its members were linked to bombings, mostly against Soviet targets because of the treatment by the Soviet Union toward its Jews. By 1972, Mr. Rubin, at 26, had become the group's West Coast co-ordinator.
His profile in the United States rose as he appeared regularly on the nightly news taking on neo-Nazis and Arab activists. But his efforts to tackle supposed enemies in Quebec were never taken seriously.
Despite his brushes with the law, he appears to have had access to mainstream-society events. In 1994, he attended a social function at a synagogue in Westmount to present an honorary degree from Tel Aviv University to former prime minister Brian Mulroney.
Along the way he married Shelley, a writer who is active in Jewish causes. They had two children and, in her words, scraped by on contributions from the JDL and Mr. Rubin's occasional part-time work as a jack of all trades.
In 1994, he announced plans to set up a vigilante-style group in Montreal to protect Jews from what he described as nationalist francophone Quebeckers. He repeated the intention after the 1995 referendum on sovereignty.
In 1999, his plans for a Montreal office went as far as placing classified ads in Canadian newspapers to recruit members. He maintained a JDL presence was warranted in Montreal as an "insurance program" to protect the Jewish community. The plans always made headlines but never bore fruit. Jewish groups said they did not need protection and disassociated themselves from his group.
A current Web site attributed to the Montreal chapter of the new Kach movement -- the group that Mr. Kahane founded in 1970 and that is outlawed in Israel -- extols Mr. Rubin as a "great Montrealer" and calls on Montreal Jews to "make a new revolution."
The Web site refers to the creation of a new group called the Jewish Defence Force and attributes the new threat to Jews as coming from Islamic and Arab groups, not Quebec nationalists.
But Mr. Birnbaum said that to his knowledge, Mr. Rubin's group has no organization in Montreal.