If you’ve been paying any attention at all to today’s news, you’ve already heard about the fact that Obama’s National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones told a “joke” that is premised on two Jewish merchants taking advantage of a dangerously dehydrated Talibani:
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.”
Oh, those clever, greedy Jews!
Had Jones been possessed of a long history of philosemitism, the joke might have been less offensive. After all, we all acknowledge that, within a community, people are allowed to rough each other up a little with jokes. (The ultimate example of this, of course, is the fact that African Americans are comfortable calling each other the “n” word, a word completely unacceptable from anyone outside of the African American community.)
Jones, however, is not a philosemite. As Yid With Lid reports, “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.” This was not the loving joke of an insider but was, instead, a mean-spirited ad lib.
But here’s the really funny thing, showing that the joke is on Jones himself. Not only is that little story visibly hostile to Jews, something that doesn’t reflect well on Jones, it also shows that he’s woefully uninformed about Islam, something that’s a little scary for a National Security Advisor. You see — Muslims won’t wear ties, probably even if they’re thirsty.
Bottom line: If you’re going to tell a racist joke, get your facts right.
UPDATE: There is a lot of debate in email threads to which I belong about whether the joke was indeed antisemitic. My take continues to be that the person who told the joke matters. If Jones had the warm cuddlies to Jews, I’d laugh; as it is, I doubt his motives, which makes it harder to laugh. The Anchoress, however, looks at the joke itself, and has a very different and interesting take on the whole thing.
UPDATED: Jones has apologized. He was right to do so. Even if not antisemitic, the person telling the joke, the timing and the venue mean it was pretty much the equivalent of a girlie j0ke told to a group of grandmothers. Just out of place.