Is there anything funnier than a good joke about a Jewish merchant? Some people at the Anti-Defamation League don't think so! They complained after Obama's National Security Adviser, James L. Jones, told this joke to a pro-Israeli crowd.
James Jones was speaking to a gala in honor of the 25th anniversary of the pro-Israeli think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and thought he'd warm up the crowd with a joke. As summarized by The Forward:
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.
Jewish merchants, amirite? (www.instantrimshot.com) Actually, the the audience largely lapped it up. And, as a Jew, I am only offended by the delivery. But, predictably, the Anti-defamation league was not pleased. (And the White House did not include the joke in its official transcript.) So James L. Jones apologized this afternoon with this sad statement:
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.