Monday, April 26, 2010

Obama's National Security Advisor's Joke

President Obama's National Security Adviser, Jim Jones told the following joke, where he received lots of laughs from the audience...



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.”

Funny? Insensitive? Anti-semitic? Miserly Jewish Merchant?

Is it appropriate for the national security adviser of the United States to tell jokes about miserly Jewish merchants?

Do you think he would have made a joke about an African American?

Or maybe, the audience's laughter was like that in, "Throw the Jew down the well" and Jones is simply a version of Borat?

(hat-tip: The Forward)


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33 comments:

yitz.. said...

this joke would've been funny without mentioning Jews at all ..

it's just antisemitic. period.

(Jew was picked to avoid offending anyone.. except Jews)

yitz.. said...

my only question: was the joke delivered to a group of Jews?

(which would make sense and then not be offensive)

ProfK said...

Yitz,

Saying "which would make sense and then not be offensive)" is not true for all. Humor is not universal and has basic elements that are culturally/societally determined; what is funny for one group is not funny for another. And then there is the element of who is telling the joke. If a Jew had told the joke, there are many Jews who would have found it funny. But the humor tends to fly away and get lost when it is someone who is not Jewish who is telling the joke.

And then there is the appropriatness, or lack thereof, of an official representative of the US government telling such a joke in public, no matter to whom. Better to be safe and not take the chance of offending anyone than to tell such a joke and then have to spend a whole lot of time back-pedaling to explain that you meant no harm.

Menachem Lipkin said...

Personally, I'm not offended nor do I see it as anti-Semetic. I see it as positive in an "Inglorious Bastards" kind of way.

yitz.. said...

If a person is lecturing a room full of denomination X and the people are there because they are denomination X then it wouldn't be inappropriate by the "east coast (read: tri-state area) american standards" I grew up with for the lecturer (even if not of denomination X) to make a joke about said denomination.

It would be more of a problem if the lecturer made the denomination in question the butt of the joke -- which the lecturer didn't in this case.

So, if it turned out the US government representative in this case made this joke at a dinner for Rabbis for Human rights or any other gathering that made it clear that everyone in the room was choosing to be affiliated with the Jewish nation, I don't think the joke would be deemed inappropriate, especially because the Taliban is technically the butt of the joke.

If it was in any other setting, obviously it would be inexcusable because there was no justification for the use of 'Jew' in that context.

Anonymous said...

GET A LIFE. SERIOUSLY.
IN A BLOG THAT HAS JOKED ABOUT SUCH LOVELY TOPICS AS A PROTESTOR/PALESTINIAN SYMPATHIZER WHO WAS RUN OVER BY A BULLDOZER-- AND PANCAKES-- AMONG OTHER CHOICE THINGS I'VE READ HERE (MUST I CONSULT YOUR ARCHIVES?), DO YOU SERIOUSLY EXPECT THIS TO BE A BIG DEAL?
NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT THE BUSH WHITE HOUSE WAS FILLED WITH SUCH LOVELY REPUBLICAN SEMITOPHILES (YES, SARCASM) YET YOU NEVER SAID A WORD FOR 8 YRS.
FACE IT. IT'S AN OLD JOKE. AND IT'S NOT ABOUT MONEY. THE STORE OWNER IS BEING CLEVER, AND HE'S DISSING HIS ENEMY. THERE'S REALLY NOT MUCH ANTISEMITISM THERE UNLESS YOU'RE REALLY, REALLY LOOKING FOR IT.
WE GET IT. YOU DON'T LIKE THE OBAMA TEAM. SLOW NEWS DAY? MAYBE TALK ABOUT PROTESTORS IN SILWAN INSTEAD OF TRYING TO CREATE A STORY WHERE THERE IS NONE.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

WOW - a full comment in all capital letters!

You know, if this is really such an irrelevant issue, why did The White House transcript sent to reporters after the event NOT include the joke and conveniently begin a couple of minutes into the speech?

The video of the event posted on the Washington Institute Web site also did not include this portion of the speech.

Perhaps they also realized this was the wrong thing to have said?

Additionally, I fully expect you will leave the same scathing comment on the Forward's website, since you've obviously been very, very insulted.

Its even more unfortunate that you feel this need to slander the blog and repeat the often used lie, that the Muqata blog is somehow, "pro-Bush, Anti-Obama". For examples of "Anti-Bush" posts, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Any other lies?

Lurker said...

To Anonymous @ 6:46 PM:

Ask your mother to teach you how the Caps Lock key works before trying to post comments on blogs.

Anonymous said...

Oops, my caps were locked. It's unfortunately the default setting for my computer at work, owing to my business (it distinguishes manager's input from others). Actually, I didn't even realize I had done it, though it is amusing to see 2 comments related to my type style. Wo. Take a chill pill.
Wow, Jameel, you came up with 8 anti-Bush blog posts in..... 8 years. Pretty impressive. That just how many you wrote about the Obama administration in ... 1 month (no need to scramble to count- it's a metaphor).
Boys, face it. You can phrase it any way you want, but the fact is, you hate Barack Obama. Always have, always will...Oh. Let me do that in capitals (joke).
The White House deleted his remarks because it was a stupid thing for Jones to have said. All racial jokes are insensitive. (So are Rachel Corrie jokes). Personally I counsel my children to NEVER tell a racial joke.
But just because an Obama appointee made a stupid move doesn't have any underlying significance-- that is, unless you want it to. Does this really reflect on President Obama? The man knew he was in a mostly Jewish crowd. He thought they would find it amusing. Certainly he was wrong.
But the point is, who cares? Showing copies of offensive posters of Obama on your blog doesn't make you a racist.
I merely mention it because you do dislike the O man, but it gets tedious to hear you go out of your way to find the dark side of all news stories related to him. Yawn.
Hey, I know you guys loathe Obama, but here's an interesting stat for you to research: How many negative posts about President Obama and his administration have you posted since he was elected?

JoeSettler said...

He apologized!

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunately the default setting for my computer at work, owing to my business (it distinguishes manager's input from others.

I'D HATE TO BE AT A COMPANY WHERE MANAGERS YELL ALL DAY IN CAPS.

Jeremy said...

Israel should blow this completely out of proportion and refuse to recognize the US as a mediator for peace talks until the US agrees to a list of demands.

Shlomo said...

Um, Anonymous, we don't hate Obama. We hate Obama's policies.

Stop trying to excuse anti-Semitism by hinting that it's OK because the Jews are racist.

Nachum said...

No fan of Obama, but I see this as a sort of "clever Jews beat their enemies" joke. Maybe not OK for a non-Jew to tell, though.

DovBear said...

It was delivered to a Jewish audience, and the joke depicts as smarter than a nasty, brutish, doltish Talibanik. Nothing offensive about it

DovBear said...

Also, Jim Jones worked for George "Israel's Best Friend Ever" Bush. I refuse to believe the greatest, most-Israel loving president who ever lived, someone who managed to love Israel with his whole heart even while climbing into bed with Saudis, could have possibly harbored an anti-Semite in his administration.

By attacking Jones you attack the Great Israel Loving President Bush and I will not stand for it!

DovBear said...

I'd like to second what anono said. Go complain about a Rachel Corrie joke for once - or use your slanted, and biased take on the world to find something negative about a Republican - before you get all bent out of shape about a mild, little, non-funny joke in which we are depicted as smart.

Or better yet, go write another poem about how Obama gave away Jerusalem and conveniently forget for months to acknowledge that Jerusalem remains as it always was.

Lady-Light said...

This joke could be interpreted in several ways:
1) as a derogatory dissing of cruel and inhuman Jews who will not give water to a thirsty man who was wandering in the desert, or
2) as look at these clever Jews, who are treating their enemy with sarcasm, but way more humanely than he would ever treat them.

I choose the latter.

Anonymous said...

???

As per Obama's demands - Jerusalem construction is frozen.

annie said...

To all those who complain about this blog's Rachel Corrie jokes - the difference is that the joke was delivered byan official of a major international power making an official speech, as opposed to an anonymous posting about Corrie by a private blogger on his own blog.

If you can't see the difference in scale and significance, you are too dim to be allowed unaccompanied on the internet.

Kylopod said...

He should have heeded the wise words of President Reagan, "See, I can tell that, being Irish."

Lurker said...

DB: It was delivered to a Jewish audience...

No. He was not. He was speaking to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. That organization might happen to include members who are Jewish, but that is hardly the same thing as "speaking to Jews".

But never mind, let's have it your way: The reason the merchants in Jones' joke were Jews is that several members of the think tank he was addressing are Jewish. So can we assume, then, using your logic, that if Jones were speaking to an audience that included many black people, then he would have described the merchants as being black?

Lurker said...

DB: Also, Jim Jones worked for George "Israel's Best Friend Ever" Bush. I refuse to believe the greatest, most-Israel loving president who ever lived, someone who managed to love Israel with his whole heart...

Only an idiot would believe that about Bush. And only a bigger idiot would expect to be taken seriously ascribing such a belief to this blog, which clearly and repeatedly spoke out against Bush's policies toward Israel.

Vox Populi said...

>No. He was not. He was speaking to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. That organization might happen to include members who are Jewish, but that is hardly the same thing as "speaking to Jews".

Meh, WINEP is a think tank that was founded by AIPAC. And it was in Washington. Jim Jones was probably the only goy in the room. Well, not quite, but it was a mostly Jewish audience, and it's a pro-Israel think tank. In other words, not the audience for any remark that was intended to be even ambivalent about Semites.

If you want to argue that Jones, as a gentile, should not have made the joke - you can, and you're free to be as offended as you like by really small things.

But trying to divine some larger Obama purpose into it is pretty stupid. Both the nature of the audience (pro-Israel lobbyists, i.e. Jews) and the purpose of the speech (Obama hearts Israel and would dive in front of a speeding train to protect it) would seem to suggest pretty strongly that Obama was not interested in conveying a simultaneous message along the lines of "Oh, by the way, make sure they know I think Jews are cheap. Heh." Even assuming he doesn't like Jews, there's still pure self interest. The fact that they didn't include it in the transcript is further proof in this direction.

And who is supposed to be the victim in this joke? The poor antisemitic Taliban?

I wonder, though, if you guys are as understanding of other minorities when they complain about this thing? I assume most of the American readers on this blog are Republicans or conservatives, many of whom feel that excessive political correctness in this country is more of a threat than actual racism. And Israelis, well, race relations in Israel have room for improvement.

And Abe Foxman, I hope we can all agree, is a twit.

Yori Yanover said...

First of all, and above all else, the joke was funny. I'm surprised how few here saw fit to at least credit the speaker with a good, working sense of humor. It was also a typical Jew beats goy joke, and not at all anti-Semitic. And I'm surprised at Haaretz for saying, in the apology story, that it was off-color. I thought off color meant sexual content. But, anyway, the joke passed my taste test, I approve and that's that.

JoeSettler said...

I've always heard this joke told with the Jew as the hero. And personally I found it funny.

As for the Rachel Corrie pancake jokes, that originated with her leftwing anti-Semitic friends.

See the Historical Oddities section.

Nachum said...

Sort of like that joke with the punchline, "Oh, no, Ma'am! Sergeant Goldstein *never* makes a mistake!"

D.C. said...

I also thought the joke was funny; it's about a clever Jew getting the better of his enemy. (See, for example, Eicha Rabbati 1:13. Is that an anti-Semitic story, too?)

If the point was to show that the Jew was greedy, then the other party in the joke would have just been "a man" in the desert. The whole point of making him a "Taliban militant" is to make it clear that he's a "bad guy" who has it coming to him.

Ben-David said...

One telling aspect of this is the that Jones - or whoever suggested this joke - did not use an Israeli joke. There are lots of them, and they're often used by politicians.

The joke reaches back to an other view of the Jew - at a time when Jewish national aspirations are being delegitimized.

Rosie said...

You know, if had been President Obama himself singing "throw the jew down the well", we'd still his his automatic spin doctors castigating those who criticize him.

DovBear said...

Only an idiot would believe that about Bush.

Then I guess your readers, and the readers and authors of most other RW blogs, as well as the people who write from RW Jewish papers are idiots. Your words.

Nice comment by Vox, esp. re: the room full of Jews.

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