Irving David Rubin (April 12, 1945 – November 13, 2002) was chairman of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) from 1985 to 2002. He died in mysterious circumstances in jail when awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to bomb private and government property.
Early life and activism
Rubin was born in Montréal, Canada. He and his parents and sister moved to the neighborhood of Granada Hills, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, which has a large Jewish population. He attained United States citizenship shortly thereafter, and served as a sergeant in the United States Air Force until he was honorably discharged. He was a staunch supporter of the right to keep and bear arms.
Jewish Defense League activism
Rubin became the successor to JDL founder Rabbi Meir Kahane, after the latter moved to Israel in 1985 and formed the Kach Party, which was eventually outlawed by the Israeli Government as "racist".
In 1985 it was reported that Rubin said about the bombing of the home of revisionist historian Dr. George Ashley, "It's too bad that Mr. Ashley wasn't blown up" and "I applaud those who took such actions. I think these people have a righteous place in the world." More moderate Jews also criticized him. Rob Eshman, the Editor-in-Chief of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles noted "In the solar system of Jewish life, Irv Rubin is Pluto" and asserted "Here in Los Angeles, for years now Rubin has been escorted out of far more Jewish events than he’s ever been invited in to."
In 1985 Alex Odeh, the local chairman of the pro-Palestinian American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) was killed by a bomb while opening the door to his Santa Ana, California office. Rubin was suspected, and further antagonized his opponents by saying that "Odeh got what he deserved." However, the JDL has insisted the attack was committed by others. The FBI was unable to prove its original allegations. The crime remains unsolved. The investigation of Rubin was headed by FBI special agent Mary Hogan, the same agent who signed the affidavit accusing Rubin of planning to destroy government property and other targets in 2001.
Before joining the Libertarian Party in 2000, Irv Rubin was an active Republican, and served as a page at the 1964 Republican National Convention, at which Barry Goldwater was nominated to run for the presidency. Irv Rubin’s joining the Libertarian Party was greeted with shock by many members because of the allegations of terrorism against both the JDL and Rubin himself. Membership requires a pledge to not "initiate force." In June 2001 Rubin let it be known that he was considering running for governor of California on the Libertarian ticket, renewing controversies among libertarians.
Rubin regularly attended rallies held by the KKK and Aryan Nations to shout down speakers and otherwise try to disrupt the proceedings. He often brought some of his followers to assist. During the civil suit brought by the SPLC against the Aryan Nations founder and Pastor Richard Butler held in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho in 2000, Rubin stayed for at least 4 days holding vigil during the proceedings. He frequently spoke out against Butler and his followers who were also holding vigil.
Appearances on television
Rubin also made a number of televised appearances during his lifetime. These include a lively 1988 debate on Crossfire with black nationalist Steve Cokely, shortly following a controversial lecture that Cokely gave in which he stated his belief that Jewish doctors were inoculating black babies with the HIV virus Video on YouTube, appearing on the History Channel documentary Nazi America: A Secret History on YouTube, and a memorable October 1997 appearance on the Jerry Springer Show where he and his bodyguards scuffled with members of the Ku Klux Klan after he attacked a member of the KKK who mocked him by removing his hood to reveal a yarmulke. 'Klanfrontation' on YouTube
2001 conspiracy charges
On December 12, 2001, Irv Rubin, JDL Chairman, and Earl Krugel, a member of the organization, were charged with conspiracy to bomb private and government property. The two allegedly were caught in the act of planning bomb attacks against the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, California and on the office of U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, who is of Lebanese and Czech decent. The two were arrested as part of a sting operation after an FBI informant named Danny Gillis delivered explosives to Krugel's home in L.A.
The JDL claims that Danny Gillis struck a deal with the FBI to neutralize the JDL by infiltrating the organization and by arranging criminal charges of its leadership. However, according to the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, Gillis was a former JDL member who joined the organization due to conflicts with white skinheads.
On February 4, 2003, Earl Krugel, Rubin's first lieutenant, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges stemming from the plot. This plea was later withdrawn by the presiding Judge, and he was charged with additional crimes which, if convicted, could result in a 55-year imprisonment in a federal penitentiary. The plea bargain was apparently reinstated in late September 2005, and the 62-year-old Krugel was sentenced to 20 years in federal detention, after an initial plea agreement based on his revealing the names of those involved in the Alex Odeh bomb plot was withdrawn. On November 4, 2005, he was killed by an inmate after having been transferred to a Phoenix federal prison. Another inmate struck Krugel on the head from behind with a cement block.
Death in prison
In November 2002, while imprisoned at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles awaiting trial, Rubin's throat was cut and then he tumbled off an 18- to 20-foot balcony. He had been threatening suicide in the days before. The injuries from the fall resulted in his death at Los Angeles County General Hospital several days later. Some people consider the circumstances surrounding his death to be suspicious, and Rubin's wife demanded an investigation. But defense attorney Mark Werksman said that Rubin had been despondent for months, losing 40 pounds, and that the pressure of an upcoming trial "may have pushed him over the top." The Rubin family launched a wrongful death suit against the government.
- Tom Tugend, , November 8, 2002.
- Tom Tugend, Did Irv Rubin attempt to commit suicide or did somebody try to murder him?, November 8, 2002.
- "JDL's new leader was born in Montreal" The Gazette. Montreal, Que.: Aug 20, 1985. pg. D.10. One controversial incident involved remarks Rubin made in Los Angeles on March 16, 1978: "We are offering $500, that I have in my hand, to any member of the community . . . who kills, maims or seriously injures a member of the American Nazi party." He spoke at a time when American Nazis were planning a march in Skokie, Ill., home to a large number of Jews, many of them survivors of the Holocaust. Rubin was charged with solicitation of murder. In 1981, he was acquitted.
- The Kach Movement – Background Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 3 March 1994
- The Daily Breeze, Torrance, CA, August 26, 1985, p. 1
- Rob Eshman,Follies, December 21, 2002
- The Murder of Earl Krugel: Where's the Outrage; Tom Tugend, "Never Say Never Again]", Jerusalem Post, December 27, 2001.
- Tom Tugend, November 8, 2002.
- Jewish Defense League leader signs up with LP, JDL head: Jews "need the Second Amendment", Libertarian Party News, March 2000 (formerly at http://www.lp.org/lpnews/0003/jdl.html); Libertarian Party News, several Letters to Editor voicing objections, May 2000.
- Eric Garris, Irv Rubin and the Libertarian Party, June 26, 2000; Justin Raimondo column item, Terrorism and Libertarianism – a Truly Odd Couple, Antiwar.com, June 14, 2000; Series of June to December, 2001 email exchanges on LPUS mailing list at http://www.dehnbase.org/lp/.
- JDL Head Arrested, JewishJournal.com, December 14, 2001.
- Fern Sidman, Today We Lost a True Hero, Jewish Defense League web page, 2002.
- Mike Levy, JDL Trial Set for October, Rubin, Krugel attorneys have been unable to speak with informant in bomb plot case, JewishJournal.com, April 12, 2002.
- Time Magazine Milestones; Jim Crogan,Krugel Gets 20 Years for Bomb Plot, September 30, 2005.
- JDL Activist Killed In Prison.
- Terror Suspect Irv Rubin Dies, November 15, 2002.
- Militant US Jew's 'suicide bid' challenged, November 7, 2002; Tom Tugend, November 8, 2002.
- JDL chairman Irv Rubin attempts suicide, November 4, 2002.
- "Family of JDL Leader Rubin Sues Gov't", Associated Press, January 24, 2003.
- Reuters article on suicide attempt
- Anti-Defamation League statement condemning the JDL attacks
- Jewish Defense League Biography
- Federal case (pdf)
- Federal filing (pdf)