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Monday, April 26, 2010

National Security Adviser Jones: Jews Are Greedy Merchants

As the National Security Adviser, General James Jones is not known as a friend of the Jewish State. It was Jones who put together the team of Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski to meet with the President and advise him to impose a solution on Israel.

Earlier this week we may have gotten some insight into why Jones is not a fan of the Jewish Homeland. He was giving the key note speech at a Washington Institute For Near East Policy and started it out with a "Joke" that borders on anti-Semitic, teaching the crowd that Jews are just greedy merchants in the same vein as Shakespeare's Shylock:
I'd like to begin with a story that I think is true, 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 storeowner. 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.
According to the Jewish Forward
After the speech, two participants suggested, in private conversations with the Forward, that Jones’ joke might have been inappropriate. After all, making jokes about greedy Jewish merchants can be seen at times as insensitive.

A prominent think-tank source who attended the event said the joke was “wrong in so many levels” and that it “demonstrated a lack of sensitivity.” The source also asked: “Can you imagine him telling a black joke at an event of African Americans?”
Was the Joke Anti-Semitic? Well, the White House must have thought so. The White House transcript sent to reporters after the event conveniently began a couple of minutes into the speech. The video of the event posted on the Washington Institute Web site started right after the Joke, you can even hear the end of the laughter.

At the very least it was an idiotic time and place to make the joke. Many of the attendees of The Washington Institute dinner were in fact Jewish. And the Jewish community is very nervous about the recent anti-Israel leanings of the Obama administration.

Its interesting that the same President that sees racism in the legitimate actions of the Cambridge Police and the State of Arizona, hides the possible anti-Semitic prose of its National Security Adviser.

UPDATE: I found the video but couldn't download it. I contacted my friends at Breitbart and thanks to the Scott Baker at Breitbart TV, I was able to get my hands on the video of Jones' "comic delivery "(if you cant see video below click here).

UPDATE: Tommy Christopher of Mediaite Points out that the reason the White House didn't have the "Joke" in its official transcript is that they issued his remarks as "prepared for delivery" in other words it was a stupid "ad-lib."

Jake Tapper Reports that Abe Foxman felt the joke was inappropriate.
While many in the largely Jewish audience laughed, others didn’t find it so funny, including Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.
“It's inappropriate,” Foxman told ABC News. “it's stereotypic. Some people believe they need to start a speech with a joke; this was about the worst kind of joke the head of the National Security Council could have told.”
 UPDATE II: Jones issued a statement of apology today:
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.
At Today's White House briefing spokesman Robert Gibbs said there "no intention to deceive" in leaving the remarks off a transcript off the event, which, as pointed out by Tommy Christopher above, was the prepared text not "as delivered." Christopher was at the breifing and filed this report.

UPDATE III: A friend of mine had an interesting "theory."  He said the joke was meant to be a jab at Israel supporters regarding, Israel's treatment of Hamas, and the closing of her borders to the terrorist group. I don't necessarily agree.  After reading all of the new facts today, I believe that Jones may have just caught a bit of Joe Biden "gaffe" disease.

In the day since I published this post I have been asked over and over, “was Jones' statement anti-Semitic?”  I can’t answer that without looking into his heart. His Joke did use old anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews. Others in the Administration have used anti-Semitic stereotypes, the most common of which is the “Jewish Lobby controls foreign policy” canard first publicly invoked by National Security Council member Samantha Power. That does not mean the Obama administration has some systemic anti-Semitism running through its veins. What it may mean is the same President who insists on political correctness for other religions and ethnicity does not have the same PC standards for Jews.


F said...

"Interesting?" No, it's not interesting. It's offensive, racist, insensitive, anti-semitic, and so egregious that if Bush's National Security Advisor had done this she'd have been sent packing. Way to go, press -- another pass for the Obama administration. F

YMedad said...

a) 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".

b) not all jokes concerning Jews (even tough 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 he Jones insensitive but dumb.

Yos said...

sorry, it's a good joke (i laughed and i'm a yid w/o a lid) ... i don't see any inappropriate stuff here ... you should move on

Ray said...

Thank your Breitbart! This video will come in handy a little closer to November.

Gary Rosen said...

I'm shocked, shocked to find antisemites in the Obama administration! At least it won't be reported in the NYT or WaPo.

Micajah said...

Where do you find an implication in the joke that the Jew running the store or his brother at the restaurant is greedy?

The joke pokes fun at the angry member of the Taliban, who doesn't stop to ask why the storekeeper would offer to sell a tie to a thirsty man. His anger causes him to learn the hard way--which is the humorous part.

egoist said...

Insensitive or not, it's hard to see the point in that joke in this context. Maybe something more akin to poking at how the "never again" creed has evaporated would be better serving the reality of the day.

Douglas said...

A variant of this joke (with no ethnic/religious aspect) was Bob Newhart's favorite joke about 40 years ago. You can even buy a recording of it on iTunes, although for some reason it has an "explicit" label.

I'm a supporter of Israel, but I think the suggestion that this particular joke was racist or anti-semitic is overdone.

GM Roper said...

The General seems to be reflecting the "sensitivity" of his boss... that is, none at all.

cdubbs said...

As a retired Marine Officer, I am continually ashamed of Gen. Jones. Have you noticed that The National Security Advisor is rarely heard from? And when he is, he acts suspiciously like he Joe Biden's brother. I cannot in my wildest imagination any Marine Officer telling a joke like this in a public forum. Time for him to go...General you need to honor the Marine Corps by resigning immediately.

Unknown said...

Myron Cohen might have told a joke like this in accent. It would have been funny. In the context of Israel/ just ain't. It is simple poor judgment or worse.

Denbo said...

Why must the merchant be Jewish for this joke to be funny? Why make the merchant Jewish at all? Why not a black man, or white man, or an Asian instead?

Because... Jews are portrayed as greedy merchants and 'money men'. Take Shylock from the Merchant of Venice for example. That is the stereotypical Jewish person in the eye of Gentiles like this General.

It is a racial joke, otherwise why add in the merchant was Jewish.

The more things CHANGE the more they stay the same.

Unknown said...

Antisemitic? Are you nuts? You are really scraping the bottom of the barrel if you can point to this and see antisemitism. Maybe indiscretion or lack of political correctness, but I suggest you save the rage for the real thing. This is a total non-incident, and it makes you look hyper-sensitive and willing to jump at anything to further your own agenda, i.e., to associate the administration with antisemitism. It won't work.

Unknown said...

The actual joke has nothing to do wit Jews or the Taliban. The original joke has a man lost in the desert who comes upon the store. The store owner tells the person that the restaurant will give him water for free and offers to sell him a tie. When he comes back, he says the Maitre-d requires a tie. The joke has nothing about a relative owning the restaurant. Jones carefully changed a standard joke to make it anti-Semitic.

RememberGushKatif! said...

I am a Lady Yid With A Lid & I am sorry to say that I find the joke funny. I am a conservative (small c) Jew, observant, who lives in Israel & is very sensitive to anti Jewish sentiment. This guy may well be a typical Obama flunky & he may hate Jews, but you cannot say that with this as evidence. Come on, people!~ There is hate speech & there is humor. Let's not become so touchy that we cannot tell the difference.
Kol HaKavod on the turnout for the protest.

Freedom's Cost said...

Of course Barak Hussein wouldn't mention any racism among his administration! First of all the butt of the joke where dem jooz; second of all BHO has two hofjuden among his boys. Those two would betray their own mothers as long as that gains them acceptance and influence.

FrumiousFalafel said...

I thought the joke was HILARIOUS!

I am a Conservative American Jew and I felt not the slightest problem with this joke! Furthermore, I don't particularly like Jones (for all the obvious reasons) but I have to confess that he delivered the joke quite well. Calling it a "true story" is just a standard introduction that all comics use for jokes -- it's meaningless.

There is no reason to get our dander up about this. We should keep our powder dry for the important issues not a well-told joke for G-d's sake.

Lastly, I happen to be a Jew who is particularly sensitive to off-color Jewish jokes. And again, I found nothing in this joke that was demeaning towards Jews... absolutely nothing. If you think there was a "money-grubbing Jew" in the joke, please read it again more carefully, there was not. If anything, the Jew was patient and polite and the Taliban "warrior" was the "butt of the joke."

Fellow Jewish Conservatives, let's all calm down here.

RememberGushKatif! said...

I agree 100% as I said above. There are too many "constant victims". Let's not allow ourselves to fall into that category. There is enough real "stuff" to about which to work ourselves into a frenzy. Let's laugh at the jokes. There is too much at stake which is most serious.

RES said...

As the saying goes, let's try a little thought experiment: same audience, same joke, Rush Limbaugh is the speaker. Think there wouldn't be major differences in reaction, on both sides?

The joke isn't particularly amusing, nor especially offensive -- the Jewish content may be chosen for this audience; for a French audience the merchants might have been French. On the other hand, for a Black audience he might have made the merchants Korean which would undoubtedly and deservedly have been seen as a play to racial bias. The critical thing here is that the joke displays extremely poor judgment at best, which is not really what we look for in such positions as Gen. Jones holds.

Anonymous said...

Why am I the only one who questioned the presence of two Jewish brothers in Afghanistan?

TeachESL said...

Frumious Felafel is right. There is absolutely nothing anti-Semitic about this joke. I have told it myself! The butt of the joke is the Taliban guy! Come on, guys. This is really being over-sensitive.

TPM said...

I think you meant "gaffe", not "guffaw" yid with lid. James Jones's apology was probably insincere. White Gentile Americans are pissed at being lied into a lost war and having their numbers and culture replaced by those not of or near their kind, simultaneously. Much like Israelis would feel about Palestinians on the latter point. It's complicated bordering on intractable. Ending third world immigration and "affirmative action" should be a Jewish priority, IMO.

Josephine said...

I think his "joke" is disgusting. Why on earth would he choose to say it at that time and place if not to trash Jews and their motives in the Middle East? Totally inappropriate and, yes, anti-Semitic.

Thank you for posting about this, Yid With Lid.

Matt said...

Just substitute the word "banker" for "Jew" and the next thing you know, General Jones of the NSA would actually be fired.

Anonymous said...

Anti-Semitic? Deplorable? Racist?

It's just an old joke. Get a sense of proportion.

What's offensive is how spiteful and touchy most Jews are about imagined or invented offenses.

Millie_Woods said...

It's a good joke, I've never heard it before and I'm 55. I might be pissed off if I was a Taliban supporter and he told that joke because the Taliban is the butt of the joke. As my dad used to say "if you're not worth a laugh then you're not worth much".

Findalis said...

It depends who is telling the joke. James Jones, then it is racist. A Jewish comic, he/she would get a few chuckles.

In this case it was in bad taste, by an idiot.

Jones should resign immediately!

Lisa Graas said...

I'm not Jewish but I find this "joke" completely unacceptable. I don't think that based on one "joke" it means that one is anti-Semitic, but it certainly does show, at best, incompetence since it is something that plays into the anti-Semitic mindset and lends some level of credibility to anti-Semitic thought. As such, it makes me want to vomit. Seriously.

Akiva said...

Listen, the joke's a good one (though he delivers it poorly) and in and of itself not particularly offensive. Oh, I can interpret it in mean ways if I want.

But that's not the point. In this day and age when one certainly couldn't get up and tell a joke about an African American, or a Polish American, or an Irish American, or an Italian American, SUDDENLY it's acceptable to tell a joke about a Jew.

And we're not talking about some Hollywood actor making a societal faux pax. We're talking about the U.S. National Security Advisor.

And yes, that signals a change in internal discussions about Jews when such things become external.

Ira M. Siegel said...

I am a Jew. The joke is a VERY funny retelling of an old joke. It is not anti-Jewish.

The recharacterization of the joke places it in a false light. Jones did not say, " there is a restaurant; they can sell you water. "

He said this, "There is a restaurant there and they have all the water you'll need."

Jones added two wonderful incongruities to the old joke.

An obviously Jewish person doing business in AFGHANISTAN

A Taliban fighter sufficiently uncivil that he launches into a tirade of verbal abuse but is NOT so uncivil that he would cause physical harm to a person he considers his arch enemy.

C'mon. Since when did my fellow conservative Jews lose their sense of humor? (Liberals, of course, would not pass up a perceived opportunity to score a political point.)

YMedad said...

Ira, if he would have said "a joke", maybe one thing, but as I pointed out, he claims the story is "true".

RememberGushKatif! said...

I agree with you, Ira. Jews are known for our great sense of humor & I detest the professional victim class. I am an observant Jewish woman who is conservative (small c) & I also find the joke funny. There is so much real anti Jewish feeling & rhetoric in the world. Let's not fall into the trap of those who have no complaints, but nitpick until they find something.

FrumiousFalafel said...

RememberGushKatik!, Chaya, and Ira, I completely agree with you all (as is obvious from my post). My basic point is to "keep our powder dry" for the real battle(s) and to not necessarily act in the same "PC" ways that other minority groups would have acted in the gedanken-experiment that Res put forth.

Yes Res, you're correct, other minority groups most certainly would have had a fit had they been the object of, or a character in the joke. But we should have slightly higher standards I think. And again, had the joke truly been antisemitic (Holocaust imagery, other truly nasty tropes, etc), then I'd be leading the charge myself!

But I think the most that can be said negatively about the joke, as Lisa Graas and Akiva have implied, is that it was
(1) somewhat off-color given the setting
(2) somewhat of-color given the speaker (irrespective of the setting)

This would be the most I could find wrong with this whole "affair."

But when one compares the truly damaging attacks and undermining tactics that have been waged / employed by this administration, for G-d's sake, this joke comes in at the bottom of the list -- and further it undercuts our own arguments against this anti-Israeli administration by focusing on such a relatively trivial matter (in my not-so-humble-opinion).

FrumiousFalafel said...

Sorry, one last minor point.

YMedad I have been to many comedy clubs and have watched countless stand-up comedians ply their trade. It is my belief that Jones was merely copying a very standard "opening technique" to telling a joke by calling it a "true story." Typically comedians do this to further engage their audiences -- that's their hope at least. Nobody ever really believes that prologue. It's just part of the act.

Now you might argue that our National Security Adviser, irrespective of who he is, shouldn't be telling off-color jokes period. I would at least understand that point if that were your argument. However if a person is planning on telling a joke to begin his speech (as many politicians do), then calling it a "true story" really is not something that can be picked out as being "wrong" or "out of place." It's typical of the medium.

And again, I do not like Jones, and I like the administration as a whole even less. All I'm saying is, let's fight the big battles and let this one pass.


HonestConservative said...

Amazingly, I have heard this joke before as have others here have.

Someone in this administration was in trouble previously for telling the same stupid joke!

I am not a Jew, I do not even play one on TV, However if I were a jew, I do not believe I would enjoy this joke. Its biggest sin is that it is not funny. The second sin is that these people are supposed to represent our nation, not do stand up.

The man should be fired for incompetence and a memo needs to go out to the administration announcing the appointment of an ethnic joke czar.

HonestConservative said...

Here's a joke for you:

A Baptist, a Catholic and a Jew walk into a Mosque.........

Now that's funny./s

Col. B. Bunny said...

I'm with Micajah. I don't see how one can get "greedy" out of that story. Nor is it anti-semitic. The joke is about deftly turning the tables on a Muslim who turns abusive over something the first Jew isn't able to provide. Neither Jew lied to the Muslim or cheated him. The version I heard had the Muslim traveling some distance through the hot desert to reach the restaurant where he's met with the ridiculous tie requirement.

Evan Sayet is very witty. He gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation. (The speech is on Youtube, btw.) He said he didn't care for the practice of beginning every political speech with a joke. "I don't begin each comedy routine of mine with a policy statement," he said.

I personally do like to tell jokes before serious speeches. I'm a gentile and I'd tell the joke in question to a convention of rabbis if I thought it made a point relative to the business at hand. I've even just told jokes for the heck of it because it's fun if I can get people to laugh. In the unlikely event I would be invited to make a speech on Israel's National Day to a Jewish audience I'd probably choose to tell a joke about greedy Presbyterians.

FrumiousFalafel said...

Colonel Bunny: Given what the Presbyterians have been up to lately, I wouldn't blame you one bit!

Why the PCUSA is so seemingly fixated on Israel (as a virtual demon!) is something I just cannot understand at all -- especially given the very strong Judeo-Christian (emphasis on Judeo) roots that almost all our Founding Fathers were very well aware of and many wanted to directly incorporate (Hebrew writing), Moses delivering his people to the "new promised land [i.e. America]," the "new Jerusalem" and so on...

-- FF

Col. B. Bunny said...

FF -- I don't get it either. I maintain that any and all nations enjoy sovereignty because of one thing only -- the use or credible threat of military force.

If the "Palestinians" want Israel, they should drive the Jews out at the tip of their swords. Failing that, they should shut up . . . and the U.S. and Europe should stop funding their arm waving and hair pulling in any event.

China controls Tibet but no leftist anywhere goes into a nut roll over there being no "Peace Process" in play v-a-v the PRC and Tibetans. Only Israel is supposed to engage in this fatuous exercise with ever-shifting objectives and requirements. Israel's some kind of entity in the world never before encountered in the history of man with special requirements for hourly justification.

Col. B. Bunny said...

FF -- What am I thinking?! Of course I know why the Communists do this. The left has allied itself with Muslims. What weakens the common enemy, viz., western civilization, helps them all. The left thinks they can control the Muslims when it's just a contest between the two but in that they are deluded.