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N.Y. Theater Bombed Before Soviet Concert

October 20, 1986|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — A firebomb exploded this morning outside a concert hall at Lincoln Center and an unidentified caller told the Associated Press that the fire was set to protest tonight's performance of the Moscow State Symphony and claimed that the Jewish Defense League was responsible .

Three canisters of flammable liquid were either thrown or placed by the stage door of Avery Fisher Hall and ignited shortly after 3 a.m., a police spokesman said.

Firefighters put out the fire, which damaged the metal stage door, within minutes, the spokesman said.

Last month about 4,000 people were evacuated from the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center after a tear-gas canister exploded during the opening night performance of the Moiseyev Ballet, a Russian folk ballet troupe.

Fire Marshall Lewis Garcia said the first call for today's fire came at 3:08 a.m. At 3:07 a.m., an unidentified caller to Associated Press claimed the Jewish Defense League was responsible.

"At 8 p.m. this evening a Soviet-Nazi performance propaganda show will give a performance at Avery Fisher Hall," the caller said. "There can be no Soviet-Nazi performances until 3 million Soviet Jews are freed."

The caller then referred all questions to the Jewish Defense League's national chairman, Chaim Ben Yosef. Contacted at his home in Brooklyn, Yosef said he knew nothing about the incident.

But, Yosef added, "as long as 3 million Russian Jews are held hostage behind an iron curtain of oppression and torture, the JDL applauds the firebombing that is aimed at protesting a Soviet-Nazi propaganda symphony."

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