Jewish Defense League (JDL)

Emma North-Best filed this request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America.

It is a clone of this request.

Tracking #

1363773-000, DOJ-AP-2017-002415



From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Records relating to or mentioning the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a radical organization that preaches a violent form of anti-Arab, Jewish nationalism. Its late founder, Rabbi Meir Kahane, claimed that Jews face fierce anti-Semitism domestically and abroad and must protect themselves by any means necessary.

The JDL's position with regard to Israel is denial of any Palestinian claims to land and the calling for the removal of all Arabs from the "Jewish-inherited soil." The group has orchestrated countless terrorist attacks in the U.S. and abroad, and has engaged in intense harassment of foreign diplomats, Muslims, Jewish scholars and community leaders, and officials.

The Jewish Defense League was founded in 1968 by Rabbi Meir Kahane (born Martin Kahane). Its inception was part of the white backlash surrounding the New York City teachers' union strikes of 1968. The strikes brought to the surface racial tension between the predominantly Jewish teachers union, and black residents who were seeking greater control over their neighborhood schools. This, coupled with black demands for more civil service jobs, stirred the already hostile racial climate in Manhattan's neighborhoods and led working-class Jews in the outer boroughs to join the JDL. Kahane, who then wrote for The Jewish Weekly, an Orthodox periodical, flooded the tabloids with stories of blacks and Puerto Ricans terrorizing Jews in Manhattan. He dispatched JDL units to "patrol" predominantly Jewish areas, which ultimately led to an ethnic polarization of neighborhoods.

By 1970, however, the JDL had changed its primary cause to the plight of Soviet Jews. From that point on, the main objective of the JDL was to terrorize Soviet establishments in the U.S. to influence the communist nation to change its anti-Semitic policies — specifically, its ban on emigration to Israel. The terrorism become so severe that President Richard Nixon feared JDL activity would threaten the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty (SALT) II negotiations with the Soviet Union. In 1970 alone, the JDL committed five acts of terrorism, taking over the East Park Synagogue in Manhattan twice, in May and in November, to protest the Soviet U.N. Mission across the street. Throughout the 1970s and '80s, JDL members did everything from pouring blood over the head of a Soviet diplomat at a reception in Washington, D.C., to planting a smoke bomb in a Carnegie Hall performance of a Soviet orchestra. With each incident, the JDL claimed responsibility by phoning in its official slogan, in reference to the Holocaust, "Never again!"

Members of the Jewish community in Moscow, however, made clear that they did not appreciate the JDL's efforts in the U.S., which were made allegedly on their behalf. In a New York Times article headlined "Anti-Soviet Violence Here Upsets Jews in Moscow," Soviet Jews publicly made their case against the JDL. "A number of Jewish activists refused permission to emigrate … feel that [anti-Soviet] harassment in New York hurts their cause and may give Soviet authorities an excuse to become even more intransigent," the newspaper reported.

Though Soviets were their main victims, the JDL has targeted anyone it considers a threat to the survival of radical Jewish nationalism. This includes U.S. and foreign diplomats, domestic radical-right organizations, Arab and Muslim activists, journalists and scholars, and Jewish community members who are simply not "Jewish enough." In 1975, six JDL members forced their way into the office of the executive vice president of the San Francisco Jewish Welfare Foundation and assaulted four staff members, including one who had been crippled from time spent in a concentration camp. The break-in was to protest the "slow response" of the federation to community needs of Jews in San Francisco.

The following year, JDL members began targeting diplomats of all nations who had voted for a U.N. resolution equating Zionism with racism. Three members were charged with invading and vandalizing the Mexican consulate in Philadelphia, and were later convicted of obstructing foreign officials and their duties, damaging property of a foreign government, and conspiracy.

The JDL also pitted its radical agenda against that of Nazis. In 1981, 20 members of the JDL took over the offices of the American Civil Liberties Union in Atlanta to protest its representation of neo-Nazis in court. Later that year, eight members attacked National Socialist Party of America leader Harold Covington with steel pipes as he approached NBC studios in New York, which led Covington to state, later that evening on the "Tomorrow" show, that "all Jews should be gassed." Earlier that year, the JDL had terrorized Boleslavs Maikovskis, an accused Nazi war criminal. A representative from the JDL took responsibility for throwing four gasoline firebombs into the Latvian ex-Nazi's home in Mineola, N.Y.

The JDL has experienced waves of internal strife throughout its years of operation, first of all with Kahane's emigration to Israel in 1971. Kahane's successor, David Fisch, was a Columbia University student who could not maintain unity in the early years. Kahane returned to the U.S. in 1974 to name Russel Kelner international chairman. Kelner was a former U.S. Army lieutenant, trained in guerilla warfare and ready to direct the JDL's paramilitary camp. In 1990, an Egyptian-born Islamic extremist, El Sayyid Nosair, assassinated Kahane during a Zionist conference in New York City, again throwing the group into disarray.

The JDL got some unwelcome international attention in 1994, when Baruch Goldstein, a JDL member, massacred 29 Palestinian Muslims kneeling in prayer at a mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron. The JDL's website justifies Goldstein's mass murder by saying "Goldstein took a preventative measure against yet another Arab attack on Jews."

In 2002, then-JDL Chairman Irv Rubin was jailed while awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy in planning bomb attacks against the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, Calif., and on the office of Arab-American Congressman Darrell Issa. Rubin slit his throat with a prison-issued safety razor, and fell or jumped off a balcony, sustaining injuries that led to his death several days later. Rubin's co-defendant in the case, Earl Krugel, met a similar fate in 2005 in a Phoenix prison when another inmate, reportedly, swung a bag containing a cinderblock into the back of Krugel's head, killing him. Krugel was murdered less than two months after being sentenced as part of a plea bargain.

In 2003, the Rubin family filed a wrongful death suit, citing allegedly suspicious circumstances. Upon the death of Rubin, Shelley Rubin, Irv's widow, named Bill Maniaci temporary leader of the JDL. In 2004, Rubin called for Maniaci to resign. When he refused, he was stripped of his title and membership, taking a large portion of the organization with him. After a lengthy legal battle over the JDL's intellectual property and website, Shelley Rubin won the title of permanent chairman and CEO of the JDL.

In 2009, never-before-seen FBI documents concerning Rubin's alleged confession and details about his death were published by the online news site

The FBI deemed the league a right-wing terrorist group in their report "Terrorism 2000/2001," but its domestic influence has waned in the years since, and today the JDL has no active chapters in the U.S. The JDL continues to wield steady membership through its website and blog, which distort news stories in order to vilify politicians, academics, and community leaders as "anti-Semitic." One such attack was entitled "Carter the Jew Hater," and attacked the former president's book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The JDL today has chapters in Eastern Europe, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

Please conduct a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) Indices, the Microphone Surveillance (MISUR) Indices, the Physical Surveillance (FISUR) Indices, and the Technical Surveillance (TESUR) Indices, for both main-file records and cross-reference records of both HQ and all field offices for all relevant names, agencies, organizations, companies and events including but not limited to those cited in the previous paragraphs and/or links as well as a cross-reference with the Southern Poverty Law Center to include any information provided by the SPLC. My request includes but is not limited to 137, 157, 176, 177, 183, 184, 188, 214 and 266 files. If previously released records are available, then I request a rolling release consisting of those records while additional records are located and processed for release.

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.


Michael Best

From: FOIPARequest

Good morning,

The FBI has received your Freedom of Information Act/Privacy (FOIPA) request and it will be forwarded to Initial Processing for review. Your request will be processed under the provisions of FOIPA and a response will be mailed to you at a later date.

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Government Information Specialist
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From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

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From: Michael Best

I am appealing the integrity of the search, as no search was actually performed despite my providing criteria for indices, field offices and cross-reference searches.


02/17/2017 05:07 PM FOIA Request: DOJ-AP-2017-002415


DOJ-AP-2017-002415 has been processed with the following final disposition: Affirmed on Appeal -- Records not reasonably described.

  • Best, Michael, AP-2017-002415, FBI - affirm unduly burdensome