From: Jorn Barger (firstname.lastname@example.org)
[Please feel free to repost this widely.]
On 18 Sept 2001, one week after the attack on the World Trade Center, a report began to circulate on the Internet, usually titled "4,000 Israeli Employees in WTC Absent the Day of the Attack". It was apparently first posted at paknews.com:
but attributed there to Al-Manar Television, Beirut, Lebanon, who themselves sourced it to the Jordanian al-Watan newspaper.
By 20 Sept this report had been reposted hundreds of times:
But on the evening of 20 Sept, President Bush addressed a television audience estimated at 82 million, and said:
"Nor will we forget the citizens of 80 other nations who died with our own: dozens of Pakistanis; more than 130 Israelis; more than 250 citizens of India..."
Those hundreds of Internet flamewars were immediately, effectively quenched. But almost no one noticed, two days later, when the NY Times quietly published a retraction of that 'more than 130' figure:
"There were, in fact, only three Israelis who had been confirmed as dead: two on the planes and another who had been visiting the towers on business and who was identified and buried."So Bush's 'more than 130' was a 4500% exaggeration! (Oops!)
And not only was this retraction buried so deeply that it went virtually unnoticed, it's also wrapped in doubletalk about duplicate reports and missing vs confirmed-dead, clearly intended to convey the impression that this was an innocent error. But a review of the Jerusalem Post's coverage of the tragedy makes the 'innocent error' claim highly implausible:
By the morning of 12 Sept, two Israeli airline passengers were being named, while those reported missing numbered 4000 (probably the main source of the original rumor):
By that afternoon, one report claimed four missing:
dropping that night to three:
The next morning (13th) there was a jump in the number still missing:
that mentions six who might have been in the immediate vicinity, and 40 in the general neighborhood. (These were obviously names that had been called in, that still needed to be tracked down.)
And that afternoon these numbers were lowered to four and four:
On the 14th, the number believed _in_ the WTC was upped to eight:
while the number of names to be traced jumped dramatically to 150.
But then the Post falls silent, as far as I can trace, until the 20th, when four names are cited in an article titled "Foreign Ministry hoping to hear from remaining Israelis":
(This article is not available for free, so I don't know what number it offers for those 'remaining'.)
The NY Times retraction of 22 Sept says:
"Over the last several days, the city's list of the missing became inflated by what officials said were missing persons reports from consulates and embassies for countries including India and Israel."So in the first two days, by the 13th, the consulate had reduced a list of 4000 missing to three missing. Then 150 more names appeared on the 14th, but surely these too must have been relentlessly investigated-- so one does indeed wonder why the Jerusalem Post lost all interest in the progress of the list for the next week.
And then somehow around the 18th or 19th, as the conspiracy rumor was taking off in a very dangerous way, this 'inflated' list-- which had mysteriously only shrunk from 150 to 130 in five days-- this list was mistakenly delivered to the City of New York, where it was mysteriously mistaken for a list of confirmed dead. And then, out of all the 80 countries that Bush might have singled out for recognition, he happened to choose this 4500% error to emphasize before all those 82 million television viewers...
And then, of course, the retraction was mysteriously buried.
So what are we to make of this?
_Did_ the Israelis have advance warning?
Two Post articles from 13 Sept give contradictory reports of Israeli businesses in the WTC:
The first says there were none, the second says there had been two, one of which had moved out just two weeks before, while the other was on the 47th floor, but had only 4 or 5 employees present out of 18 total.
So if Bush hadn't presented that wildly exaggerated claim, the rumors would have been much harder to quash. And this seems especially sinister to me because of this wider context:
- Israel would love more US help in fighting its war against 'Islamic terrorism'
- many US Jews have a divided allegiance between Israel and the US
- many powerful figures in the media and government share this divided allegiance, but this is almost never declared openly
- the US media have a virtual blackout on explaining what the Islamic grievances are (I understand CNN recently banned even the term 'settlements')
- the US media never mention the staggering degree of bigotry in orthodox Judaism (in a recent Post story, orthodox Jews were unwilling to ride in a taxi _driven_ by a non-Jew without a rabbi's approval!?)
So our current situation is that we're quite possibly being dragged into World War III by undeclared agents of a foreign government, in defense of a fundamentalist religion we're not allowed to criticise (or even understand), for a nation that scorns international law... and that now _appears_ to have taken advantage of our national tragedy to advance their selfish agenda.
Here's what I think the American people deserve, at minimum:
- a credible accounting for the mysterious inflated list-- what was on it, why was it so long, how did it get misdelivered
- a public apology for the appearance of cynical opportunism
- a credible accounting of Israeli employees in the WTC
and most importantly:
- a national teach-in on Judaism and on the middle east, giving all
sides so that people can make an informed decision