By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
But Sunday’s memorial for the volatile activist was strangely quiet. Only one reporter was on hand to witness the procession of impromptu speakers, which included a civic gadfly, a cable-access TV host, and also the Libertarian candidate for governor, a pagan who carried his druid staff with him. Rubin would have appreciated that the ceremony was videotaped — indeed the proceedings were halted when it was time to change the videotape, and Rubin’s widow asked well-wishers to sign releases so the video could be disseminated.
Even more, Rubin would have loved that his friends’ and family’s warm remembrances were interspersed with political harangues — and the accusation that Rubin’s death a year ago at age 57 was not a suicide, but a state-sponsored murder carried out by the U.S. government.
“The government wanted to silence Irv Rubin and they did,” said his widow, Shelley. “But we’re not going to let them get away with it.” She expects to file a lawsuit before year’s end.
Rubin died in custody under the cloud of domestic-terrorism charges, for allegedly plotting to blow up a mosque and the Orange County offices of Arab-American Congressman Darrell Issa in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. (Yes, the same Issa who bankrolled the Gray Davis recall.)
After Rubin’s death, his alleged co-conspirator, Earl Krugel, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and a weapons-related charge. He awaits a December 15 sentencing that is expected to put him in prison for 10 to 20 years, well past his 70th birthday.
The Rubin family has disowned Krugel, calling him a traitor and a liar for implicating Rubin, not to mention a racist, something they insist Rubin never was. They noted that Rubin once rallied community support for a Palestinian merchant whose Fairfax-area restaurant had been targeted by vandals.
At the memorial, as one loyalist rose after another, the home video quickly became a spontaneous image-building exercise.
Rubin a terrorist?
Oy vey, no — more like super-mensch.
One woman recounted how Rubin donated blood to her cancer-stricken daughter. Rabbi Zvi Block recalled how Rubin walked from the synagogue to the rabbi’s house in socks after Block admonished Rubin for wearing leather on Yom Kippur. One friend talked of Rubin’s love for Turkish baths, and how Rubin could stand naked in the steam with men of all creeds and colors. Melrose Larry Green, the well-circulated gadfly, upped the celebrity ante by asserting that Jewish comedian Jackie Mason also adored Rubin, even though Mason, unfortunately, has stopped talking to Melrose Larry.
Family friend Alan Epstein insisted that “Irv never allowed us to bring weapons with us” to protests, not even baseball bats. But Rubin made Jew-haters think twice, said Epstein. “He made them realize that Jews are going to fight back and maybe you’ll get hurt, too, and it won’t be so much fun.”
Among this group, it was easy to forget that investigators once linked the militant JDL to vandalism, hate crimes and a few murders. Rubin’s mentor, Meir Kahane, was assassinated in 1990 after helping launch a militant Jewish right wing, first in the U.S. and then in Israel. The Israeli government has banned Kahane groups as terrorist organizations, though some government ministers also have parroted Kahane’s anti-Arab rhetoric. It was hard to see the cold-blooded side of Kahane in the aging Rubin, a doting husband and father. And despite Shelley Rubin’s talk of resurgence, it also was difficult on Sunday to see much future for the JDL, which in recent years seemed to be Rubin, his megaphone, and not much else. Most of the 40-odd Rubinites were gray-haired, balding or stooped, though they harbored flares of the old militancy.
Orange County conservative Howard Garber, for one, railed against the statue that honors slain Palestinian-American activist Alex Odeh. The statue, which sits outside Santa Ana’s main library, should be moved to a non-public setting, said Garber, because Odeh had been a defender of Yasir Arafat. Rubin and other JDL members were suspects in the 1985 Odeh murder, but never charged.
When one speaker, who barely knew Rubin, remarked that Rubin never threw the first punch, two others quickly corrected him. Yes, said Rabbi Aaron Parry, there was little doubt that Rubin sucker-punched a skinhead on the Jerry Springer show. But the neo-Nazi, Parry hastened to add, had it coming.
I’ve only met a few New York pigeons, and I once saw thousands of pigeons in some famous square in Italy. But none of those birds compare to L.A. pigeons.
We don’t have homing pigeons — we have homey pigeons. These birds aren’t afraid of anything or anybody. They may run, but they won’t fly away when humans approach — and when they do run, you better make sure you still have your wallet.
Hollywood has some pretty deep bird drama — ravens, conures, swallows, peregrines and sparrows chirping out some mighty fine bird soap operas. But the pigeons don’t even acknowledge other birds’ petty squabbles over nests and eggs and survival. Not when there’s a fresh flock of tourists every year to terrorize. Pens, watches, coins, hair accessories and money clips are only some of the items desired for the pigeon on the make.