A Few Israelis Also Celebrated 9/11

As numerous as the grains of sand in the desert, so too are gems of material derived from Donald Trump. Today, I wanted to touch upon his claim of the “thousands of Arabs” in New Jersey celebrating 9/11 as fodder for his anti-Muslim stances. Of course, his claim of thousands is totally false, and as I wrote on SFVmedia.com I suspect he is confusing a few Muslims in America celebrating that day with the large number of Palestinians celebrating that day.

However, he might also want to consider that a handful of Israelis in New Jersey also celebrated on 9/11. It seems their celebration was not so much because of anti-American sentiment as a realpolitik notion that this would draw greater support for Israel.

While the attacks were unfolding, a woman in New Jersey witnessed a group of three men on top of a van appearing to videotape the event. “They were like happy, you know…They didn’t look shocked to me. I thought it was very strange,” she said. One of the men posed for a photo holding a lit cigarette lighter with the towers in the background.

The woman called the police, and soon the FBI intervened as well. Later that day authorities stopped the van and detained five Israeli citizens inside, who were incarcerated for months. There was some evidence suggesting that the five men, or at least one, were undercover Israeli agents, although there was never anything conclusive.

The group has been dubbed the “Five Dancing Israelis” on the Internet, although there does not appear to be evidence that they actually danced. It seems that claim is the result of exaggeration of reports combined with an Internet game of telephone. They are frequently cited as “evidence” by conspiracy theorists that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks or at least had foreknowledge. (I had to wade through a number of them to find the legitimate sources cited herein.)

Meanwhile, former and future Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – whom Donald Trump endorsed in 2013 – said at the time that the attack was “very good,” as reported by the New York Times. He then backtracked and clarified, “Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.” He added that he believed the attack would ”strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we’ve experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive hemorrhaging of terror.”

Netanyahu still held this opinion seven years later, when the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv quoted him as saying, “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq.” He added that it “swung American public opinion in our favor.”

So does that make Israelis a threat to national security? By Donald Trump logic it might very well be. Is he going to propose they be banned next?