One of the earliest pointers to foreknowledge of attacks arose in the story that "4,000 Israelis failed to turn up for work on 9/11". However, checking the source Jerusalem Post story tells you all isn't quite as it seems:
So it's clear this figure isn't just people who work at the WTC, or even the WTC and the Pentagon. It also refers to families who have relatives nearby (perhaps just visiting New York or Washington, or touring the US and may have been in the area), and who haven't heard from them yet. Which, given the overwhelmed telephone system, is no surprise at all, and was matched in other countries. A UK help line for anxious relatives received over 20,000 calls about potentially missing family members, while Ireland similarly reported receiving 2500 to 3000 calls.
The article confirms the general nature of the calls later, with a quote from the New York Times:
Makes sense to us, and shows that this figure of 4,000 (and therefore all the claims that flow from it) is entirely meaningless. The story was given life by Lebanon’s Al Manar television, though, the anti-Israel slant meant it was quickly picked up across the web, and you'll still hear it occasionally repeated, even today.
- Bryan Curtis covered the issue in "Tracking an Internet Hoax".
- There's further detailed debunking of the story in The 4000 missing Israelis.
- For more on who died and where they came from, visit September 11 Victims (now available on the web archive only).
No Israeli deaths
A spin-off from this story is the idea that there were somehow statistically too few Israeli citizens killed at the WTC. This idea arose soon after the attacks, and appeared in pieces by David Duke and David Irving, amongst others. Typically people will either say there were none, or only one, as mentioned in this New York Times piece:
The key word here is "confirmed", though - this was only September 22nd, and it took time for deaths to be confirmed and news of this to reach the media. By the first anniversary of the attacks the total had risen to five; two on the plane, and three in the towers.
Was this "too few"? We've yet to see anyone make a case based on anything other than bigotry, but it seems unlikely. There's no reason to believe Israeli citizens made up anything more than a very small percentage of WTC-based employees, and that makes it difficult to attach any statistical significance to the number of fatalities. And indeed, examination of the non-American casualty figures shows what a waste of time such calculations are. Only 6 Irish fatalities in New York, for instance? Were they warned, too?
We could go on to speculate about such warnings. Why they didn't reach the Israelis who died, for instance. Why, if anyone received them, they decided not to go in to work, or inform their friends and colleagues, so allowing them to be killed. This may seem plausible if you're a Holocaust-denying liar, but to us they're just absurd propaganda from anti-semites. (And please, if you actually believe this, don't email to say you're just anti-Zionist. That's a lie. And you know it.)