What 'cheering Muslims'? Trump should check out the case of the grinning Israelis detained for 9/11 videos
Trump still thinks his "cheering Muslims" theory is spot on, even though it has been widely debunked. But his claims might actually derive from the hushed "dancing Israelis" theory. (AFP/File)
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Between calls to shut down all mosques and thoughts on requiring Muslims to wear identification, Trump is on fire lately. So no one was all that surprised this week when he said he saw "thousands" of Arabs in New Jersey cheering immediately after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
Trump's "thousands" were not even among the many false reports spawned in the tense days following the attack, a point that's been made by numerous debunkers all week. But a group of people in New Jersey did appear to be celebrating following the attacks. They were arrested and questioned by the FBI before being kicked out of the US. But they weren't Arabs.
Trump might actually have been referring to the “dancing Israelis," a much-discussed event back in 2001 that's since been confined to the realms of 9/11 Truth sites and the like.
During his segment on ABC's The Week, the Republican candidate said, “law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops.”
The claim sounds an awful lot like an FBI account of arrests in New Jersey on the day of the attack—a group of men exhibiting “puzzling behavior” drove a neighbor to call the police, claiming five individuals were filming and appeared jovial as they watched the attacks from the top of their van in Weehawken, NJ.
An extensive ABC investigation found that the men were later arrested by the FBI after a boxcutter and foreign passports in the van and almost $5,000 in cash in one of the man's sock roused police suspicion. Records state that the so-called “dancing Israelis” were interrogated for two months and sent back to Israel in late November. FBI employees ABC spoke to back then said the question of whether the men were connected to Israel's Mossad intelligence agency was still a hot debate at the bureau.
This week, as the Internet was having a hot debate of its own over Trump, "the dancing Israelis" made but a few, brief appearances, with people focused on fighting over whether any possible Arab or Muslim cheering had actually taken place in New Jersey.
To this tune, we've got the Palestinians in Paterson, NJ calmly engaged in a group prayer before being rushed in on by police who were told they were rioting on the day of the attack, and the sight of several Pakistani gas station attendants sharing a birthday cake raising enough suspicion for passersby to call radio stations.
Then in a CNN segment Tuesday, former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani said his city had actually witnessed some Arabs celebrating on the day.
"We had pockets of celebration," he told the CNN, including one situation in which a "candy store owned by a Muslim family was celebrating that day."
But these were groups of 10 or 20 people, the former mayor said. Still a pretty far cry from Trump's thousands.
Meanwhile, the only actual documentation of any arrests for so-called celebrating is the one in New Jersey with the Israelis. Ostensibly, this is the most reasonable source of this week's claim from Trump. And yet, radio silence.
As Mondoweiss points out, perhaps because of its branding as an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory and the individuals' still-undetermined link to Mossad, this seems to be about the only 9/11 story the media isn't latching onto.
By Elizabeth Tarbell