AP, Nov. 14, 2002
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jewish Defense League leader Irv Rubin, who fought with Arabs, neo-Nazis, Klansmen and others he regarded as enemies of the Jewish people, died after what federal authorities said was a suicide attempt in jail. He was 57.
The chairman of the militant organization died in the hospital Wednesday night. Federal officials said Rubin slashed his throat with a prison-issued razor blade on Nov. 4 and tumbled 18 feet over a railing at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center.
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The apparent suicide attempt occurred just hours before Rubin was to appear in court on charges he plotted to bomb a Southern California mosque and the office of Rep. Darrell E. Issa, R-Calif., a Lebanese-American. Fellow JDL member Earl Krugel was also arrested in the alleged plot.
Rubin’s wife, Shelley Rubin, has called for a further investigation into his injuries, asserting Rubin would not have tried to kill himself.
Rubin, who by his own account had been arrested more than 40 times, joined the JDL early in the 1970s and became chairman in 1985.
In 1989, the leader of the rival Jewish Defense Organization was charged with firing shots at Rubin and wounding three others in New York. Mordechai Levy was convicted of assault.
Rubin offered insight into his militant roots in a biography posted on the JDL’s Web site.
As a boy growing up in Montreal, he encountered signs declaring “No dogs or Jews Allowed” outside hotels and other businesses. He also endured taunts from French Canadian school children.
“It was here that Irv Rubin learned to fight back,” the biography states.
His family immigrated 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.
The JDL, whose symbol is a raised fist inside a Star of David, has the motto “Never Again,” referring to the World War II murder of 6 million Jews. It was founded in 1968 by Meir Kahane to mount armed response to anti-Semitic acts in New York City.
The group was suspected in a 1985 bombing in Santa Ana that killed Southern California Arab anti-discrimination leader Alex Odeh, but no arrests were ever made.
Rubin could often be found protesting outside courthouses where white supremacists were being tried. He clashed with Ku Klux Klansmen on “The Jerry Springer Show.”
He once offered $500 to anyone who “kills, maims or seriously injures” a member of the American Nazi Party.