Monday, April 26, 2010

Jones With His Foot in His Mouth

Yid With Lid pointed me to a really stupid performance by James Jones.

The National Security Advisor, General Jones gave the key note speech at the Washington Institute For Near East Policy and decided to tell a joke he thinks is true. Others thought it bordered on the anti-Semitic, a la Shylock.

The joke:

A Taliban militant gets lost and is wandering around the desert looking for water. He finally arrives at a store run by a Jew and asks for water. The Jewish vendor tells him he doesn’t have any water but can gladly sell him a tie. The Taliban, the jokes goes on, begins to curse and yell at the Jewish store owner. The Jew, unmoved, offers the rude militant an idea: Beyond the hill, there is a restaurant; they can sell you water. The Taliban keeps cursing and finally leaves toward the hill. An hour later he’s back at the tie store. He walks in and tells the merchant: “Your brother tells me I need a tie to get into the restaurant.”

You can see and hear it here, too.

That he introduces the joke, which I have heard for over two decades now in various forms, as "being true" is really either stupid of Jones or indicative of a mindset which would be "Jew-inimical".

And he should be aware that not all jokes concerning Jews (even though after six decades, I can tell you that the same jokes move about the ethnic groups quite easily) one tells in public, even if they are funny and even if Jews themselves tell them which means not only is Jones insensitive but dumb.



Statement from General Jones about the joke he told during his remarks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy

“I wish that I had not made this off the cuff joke at the top of my remarks, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it. It also distracted from the larger message I carried that day: that the United States commitment to Israel’s security is sacrosanct.” – General Jim Jones, National Security Advisor


Let’s unpack this. First of all, I don’t believe the joke was made up on the spur of the moment. That’s not how these things work. As a reader pointed out to me, it’s quite likely that not only Jones but also a speechwriter or two thought there was nothing much wrong with this. Second, for an administration under criticism for insensitivity or outright animus in relation to Israel, why play with fire? If nothing else, this confirms the criticism of Jones — he’s a bit of a buffoon.

And finally, why didn’t the president demand an apology? Was he not alarmed that his national security adviser is cracking Jewish-merchant jokes?

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