Dancing Israelis 9/11 Antisemitic Conspiracy

9/11 antisemitic conspiracy theory: the “dancing Israelis”

A few weeks after the al-Qaeda attack on 11th September 2001 the popular daily newspaper USA Today ran a story on false allegations circulating around Muslim countries, which were accusing Israel of being involved. The article included a quote from the father of Mohammad Atta, the ringleader onboard hijacked American Airlines Flight 11, who said “The FBI seized a number of Jews while they were dancing in celebration over the incidents”. This one line led to the creation of the rumour about ‘Dancing Israelis’ and five young Israeli men were about to find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest Antisemitic conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11.

Brothers Sivan and Paul Kurzberg, Omer Marmari, Yaron Shmuel and Oded Ellner were at work for a removal company Urban Moving Systems when the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, hit the North Tower. Three of the men, along with many other shocked New York residents that day, went to witness the tragic events unfold.

They took the short drive to the Doric Towers car park which was across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan and there they were seen by a local resident, Maria, who found their behaviour unusual. Maria contacted the police, describing three men standing on the roof of a van who appeared to be ‘jovial’ and giving each other ‘high-fives’.

Returning to the removal firm and with all work now cancelled for the day the five men began a laborious journey back to their Brooklyn apartments trying to navigate a way home avoiding streets which had been sealed off. Stopping at a police checkpoint and needing assistance they were shocked to suddenly find themselves at gunpoint and under arrest. Unbeknown to them, the van’s description had been circulated to police, country wide, following Maria’s report.

During interrogations the men explained their ‘jovial’ behaviour had been no more than a feeling of hope that the US, having experienced terrorism on home soil, would now come to Israel’s assistance in the fight against terrorist organisations back in their homeland.

Maria, nor any other witnesses that day, ever referred to the men as ‘dancing’ and the items found in their van, multiple passports, large sums of money and plane tickets, which had raised suspicions were soon dismissed by the FBI following a thorough investigation. But thanks to the USA Today article, rumours had by now spread that the ‘Dancing Israels’ were Mossad agents and the removal firm was a front for Mossad.

Urban Removal Systems was a disreputable company and they had been employing the men without work permits but they, along with the five young men, were completely cleared of having any involvement with, or former knowledge of, the attacks.

But even though the conspiracy website The Grayzone, known for it fierce opposition to Israeli policy, concluded after years of research and interviewing those involved there was absolutely nothing to back up any of the rumours, the ‘Dancing Israelis’ are still cited by Antisemities and ‘truthers’ today as ‘proof’ that Israel must have known about the attack in advance or, at the very least, Israelis celebrated the atrocities of 9/11.


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