Meyer Lansky

Meyer Lansky Scorns an Interviewer



Meyer Lansky Scorns an Interviewer

 

Lansky, Meyer. Autograph Letter, Signed (“Meyer”) from Meyer Lansky to Joseph Sheiner Regarding an Unwanted Visit from a Newspaper Man. [Miami]. Feb. 17, 1975. 2¼ pages on two ruled sheets. Folio. Minor wear and toning, very good.

 

Strong letter from notorious Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky to his Israeli confidante, Joseph (Yushki) Sheiner, a member of the Israeli Security Agency and Prime Minister Ben Gurion’s security director in the 1960s. Lansky fled to Israel in 1970 to evade charges of federal tax evasion, but was deported by the Israeli government in 1972. It was Sheiner who accompanied Lansky on his infamous flight from Israel to Switzerland and South America. Unable to secure asylum, Lansky ultimately returned to Miami where he was promptly arrested by the FBI on an outstanding warrant. He was acquitted in 1974, though he was never allowed to return to his beloved Israel and he died in Miami in 1983.

 

Here he writes to Sheiner about a meeting with a friend, which he thought was a personal dinner but which turned out to be an unwelcome encounter with a reporter. His letter conveys his frustration with the situation, as well as his strong feelings for his adopted homeland of Israel. He writes, indignantly:

 

“I waited for Uri’s arrival; I thought he may have a message but all he brought was another newspaper man from Stern Magazine in Germany. … He told me how important the Stern Magazine is for Israel. The day of arrival I met Uri not knowing he had Klaus with him. I invited them to my home and took them to dinner. I soon learned what Uri’s mission was. … I made it clear I wasn’t interested in seeing Klaus again…. I also made it clear to him that all I was interested in was Israel and my friends in Israel – not in newspaper stories. I’m anxious to visit Israel but not on the strength of publicity. Publicity will not help my return. I also don’t have a desire to create any friction in Israel. Israel has enough problems without me. I also don’t intend to beg for permission to visit Israel. Regardless of what may be the outcome my second land is Israel, I would love to visit my friends again and next year in Jerusalem. … I’m sure there will be a [magazine] story. Also a quote from me, no doubt. That quote isn’t mine.”

 

The remainder of the letter is filled with family news, health updates, and enquiries after friends in Israel. While the media often portrayed Lansky’s bid for Israeli citizenship as a ploy to escape justice in the United States, his letters reveal a genuine affection for the country and its people and a deep desire to reside there. The few short years he spent in Israel had an enormous effect on the reputed mobster, as his correspondence reveals.


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Item: 65378

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Meyer Lansky
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