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Arrest Casts Spotlight on Private Life of JDL's Rubin : Activist: Chairman of militant Jewish group is held on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder for hire.

March 08, 1992|PAUL LIEBERMAN and LAURIE BECKLUND | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

"Not only did it give Gentiles the idea that we were violent," he told The Times, "it also turned off many Jews and closed tens of thousands of doors to us. We became the black sheep of the family . . . militancy, in people's minds, is one step removed from terrorism."

A native of Montreal, Rubin often said it was experiences with anti-Semitism there that made him receptive to the JDL's militant stance. He moved to the San Fernando Valley when he was 15. In 1971, he heard the JDL's founder, Rabbi Meir Kahane, give a speech at Cal State Northridge.

"If you see a Nazi," he recalled Kahane saying, "don't try to convince him you're a nice guy." Instead, Rubin said, Kahane told his listeners to "smash him."

By 1972, Rubin, at 26, had become the group's West Coast coordinator.

That year, Rubin was arrested for attempted murder after someone fired three shots at an American Nazi in El Monte. A few months later, he was arrested again in connection with a pipe bomb explosion outside the home of a Palestinian. Though he would be arrested many times, Goldberg said Rubin has never been convicted of any serious charges.

After alienating much of mainstream Judaism, Rubin moved his group out of the Beverly-Fairfax area and into a fortress-like office in Culver City guarded by an armed sentry. Later, he moved again to the San Fernando Valley.

Kahane turned the reins of his organization over to Rubin in 1985, after he emigrated to Israel. Four months later, a booby trap exploded at the Santa Ana offices of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, killing its western director, Alex Odeh.

An FBI analysis reported a year later that "certain evidence" implicated former associates of Rubin's who have since emigrated to Israel. Rubin has denied any involvement, although he has said: "I have no tears for Mr. Odeh. He got exactly what he deserved."

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