4,000 Jewish employees did not attend work at the WTC on 9/11
This claim made by Al-Manar, the television station of Hezbollah, has been repeated by a wide variety of other sources, such as Amiri Baraka. The original Al-Manar claim, posted September 17, 2001 on the English language version of Al-Manar's website, was:
"With the announcement of the attacks at the World Trade Center in New York, the international media, particularly the Israeli one, hurried to take advantage of the incident and started mourning 4,000 Israelis who work at the two towers. Then suddenly, no one ever mentioned anything about those Israelis and later it became clear that they remarkably did not show up in their jobs the day the incident took place. No one talked about any Israeli being killed or wounded in the attacks."
Al-Manar further claimed that "Arab diplomatic sources revealed to the Jordanian al-Watan' newspaper that those Israelis remained absent that day based on hints from the Israeli General Security apparatus, the Shabak". It is unclear whether al-Watan (a minor Jordanian newspaper with no website) made these claims or who (if anyone) the alleged "Arab diplomatic sources" were. No independent confirmation has been produced for this claim.
In some versions of the story circulated on the Internet, the title was changed to "4,000 Jewish Employees in WTC Absent the Day of the Attack" from its original "4000 Israeli Employees in WTC Absent the Day of the Attack", spawning a further rumor that not only Israeli but all Jewish employees stayed away. On September 12 an American Web site called "Information Times" published an article with the headline "4,000 Jews Did Not Go To Work At WTC On Sept. 11," which it credited to "AL-MANAR Television Special Investigative Report." According to Slate.com, "The '4,000 Jews' page is easily forwarded as e-mail, and this may explain the message's rapid dissemination." The rumour was also published; according to the United States Department of State "Syria's government-owned Al Thawra newspaper may have been the first newspaper to make the "4,000 Jews" claim... its September 15th edition falsely claimed 'four thousand Jews were absent from their work on the day of the explosions.'"
There were a total of 5 Israeli deaths in the attack (Alona Avraham, Leon Lebor, Shay Levinhar, Daniel Lewin, Haggai Sheffi), of which 3 were in the World Trade Center and 2 were on the planes. (4 are listed as American on most lists, presumably having dual citizenship.)
Early estimates of Israeli deaths, as of the total death toll and the death toll for other countries' citizens (e.g. India) proved substantially overestimated. George W. Bush cited the figure of 130 in his speech on September 20th.
The number of Jewish victims was considerably higher, typically estimated at around 400; according to the United States Department of State
A total of 2,071 occupants of the World Trade Center died on September 11, among the 2,749 victims of the WTC attacks. According to an article in the October 11, 2001, Wall Street Journal, roughly 1,700 people had listed the religion of a person missing in the WTC attacks; approximately 10% were Jewish. A later article, in the September 5, 2002, Jewish Week, states, "based on the list of names, biographical information compiled by The New York Times, and information from records at the Medical Examiner's Office, there were at least 400 victims either confirmed or strongly believed to be Jewish." This would be approximately 15% of the total victims of the WTC attacks. A partial list of 390 Cantor Fitzgerald employees who died (out of 658 in the company) lists 49 Jewish memorial services, which is between 12% and 13%. This 10-15% estimate of Jewish fatalities tracks closely with the percentage of Jews living in the New York area. According to the 2002 American Jewish Year Book, 9% of the population of New York State, where 64% of the WTC victims lived, is Jewish. A 2002 study estimated that New York City's population was 12% Jewish. Forty-three percent of the WTC victims lived in New York City. Thus, the number of Jewish victims correlates very closely with the number of Jewish residents in New York. If 4,000 Jews had not reported for work on September 11, the number of Jewish victims would have been much lower than 10-15%.
The figure "4,000" was probably taken by Al-Manar from a Jerusalem Post article of September 12 (p. 3) which said "The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem has so far received the names of 4,000 Israelis believed to have been in the areas of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon at the time of the attack." This number was obviously not (as Al-Manar claimed) restricted to employees; in fact, Tsviya Shimon, minister of administrative affairs for the Israeli consulate and mission in New York, said on September 14 "that there might have been up to 100 Israeli citizens working in the World Trade Center".
Furthermore, many Orthodox Jews left for work later than usual that day due to Selichot (additional prayers recited around the time of Rosh Hashanah).