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January 8, 2009

Cabbie Terror Hoax

Young urban Jews are familiar with the pleas of their parents to "Come out to the suburbs and visit once in a while, so that we know you're still alive." But many were shocked this week to learn of a new event to go along with the bar mitzvahs, holidays, and elections that force them to leave the city—a supposed upcoming terrorist attack.

The text message warning: "A Jewish woman gave a tip to a Muslim taxi driver and out of appreciation he warned her not to go to Manhattan next week Wednesday."
From Riverdale to Flatbush to the Lower East Side, New York City's Jewish communities were buzzing with the talk of a terrorist attack that was to be carried out this past Wednesday. The story is that a Manhattan woman (who always happens to be a friend's uncle's sister-in-law's friend, or something) gave an Arab cab driver a nice tip, and received another tip in return: "Stay out of the city this Wednesday."

Texts were forwarded, announcements made in synagogue, and unfortunate phone operators at the NYPD and FBI were swamped. Jewish message boards lit up with conversations about the (now multiple) warnings and advice on stocking up in the event of an attack. A fundraiser appearance by Alanis Morissette was even canceled—or maybe that was from the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where the exact same thing happened (see below).

The Daily News reports that the NYPD has confirmed that the story is indeed a hoax, a position that is supported by the fact that no terrorist attack took place in Manhattan on Wednesday. What is interesting to note, though, is how easy it was for one alleged Middle-Eastern looking cabbie to send thousands of yentas into a panic. As other recent events have also shown, the same bonds of community which have kept the Jewish people thriving for thousands of years, can also make them (okay, us) act like a bunch of schmucks.

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