- Last weekend the American National Security Adviser,
General James Jones, spoke at the 25-year anniversary gala of the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy*. Mindful that the crowd consisted of many
Jews, General Jones believed would be an appropriate, friendly gesture
to launch his speech with a Jewish Joke. He was obviously wrong.
- Jones failed to realise that as much as Jews love to
tell jokes about themselves, they are pretty circumspect when others have
a good time at their expense. It didn't take long for the head of the notorious
Anti-Defamation League, Abe Foxman, to deliver a clear message to General
Jones: if you want to join our comedy club you better be a Jew.
- The following is the transcript of General Jones in his
attempt to deliver a kosher 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 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."
- As it happens, General Jones is a devoted supporter of
Israel. By telling the above joke Jones aimed to please his Zionist audience
with what he regarded as an amusing juxtaposition of Jewish 'shrewdness'
together with savage Taliban 'naivety'. Moreover he tried to convey a message
of an American-Jewish bond premised on the notion that the Taliban warrior
is not just America's enemy; but is also an enemy of the Jew.
- Israeli Ynetnews reported today that, though the joke
was well received by the participants, some Jewish community leaders pounced
on the remark: "ADL says joke in which Jewish merchant swindles thirsty
Taliban fighter inappropriate and stereotypical".
- Clearly Abe Foxman and some other Jewish ethnic leaders
were not impressed. Seemingly they didn't approve of the 'Jewish swindler'
stereotype. Interestingly enough, in the joke the Jewish vendor doesn't
cheat, there is no fraud. In the joke the Jewish merchant doesn't try to
obtain anything by means of deception. In the joke a merchant may trick
a Taliban fighter to buy a tie but there is no swindle.
- However, as much as there is no 'Jewish swindling' in
the joke as the ADL suggested, there is plenty of it in American mainstream
news. Tragically enough we recently met far too many Jewish fraudsters,
swindlers and organ traffickers whether it was Madoff, Goldman Sachs, Lehman
Brothers or many. Those who follow the news from Israel learn daily about
the institutional corruption and swindling scandals in the Jewish state.
- Seemingly, Foxman and other Jewish leaders demanded
General Jones apologize for something that they see in themselves, rather
than something the General himself suggested or said.
- However, a deeper reading of Jones' joke reveals the
embarrassing fact that it is not the 'swindling' attempt that reflects
so badly on the Jewish tie vendor. It is actually the lack of human compassion.
In the joke the tie vendor would not give water to a thirsty man who lost
his way in the desert. In the joke, greed eclipses humanity. As much as
this idea depicts a pretty harsh stereotypical reading of Jewish identity,
such an interpretation is reasonable and even legitimate considering the
crimes against humanity performed by the Jewish state in the name of the
Jewish people. The starvation of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza is one
example of such a lack of humanist consciousness. Again. I wouldn't think
that this is what General Jones had in his mind when telling the joke.
However, it is more than likely that once the Zionist crowd stopped chuckling,
they grasped the similarity between themselves and the Jewish vendor.
- A further critical reading of Jones' joke would also
bring to light a sharp criticism of Jewish tribal brotherhood in the context
of Western politics. In the joke two Jewish brothers look after each other
regardless of any human or universal concern. In the joke, two Jewish merchants
collaborate in the torture and exploitation of a thirsty man in the middle
of the desert. It is a blatant tale of tribal nepotism. Again, considering
the extensive and relentless work done by Jewish lobbies to support their
brothers in Israel and bearing in mind the endless Neocon attempt to drag
us all into wars, Jones' joke should be taken as more than a whiff of witty
- Abe Foxman has managed to terrorise General Jones into
submission. He may have succeeded in diverting the attention from the moral
of Jones's joke into just another meaningless debate about anti Semitism.
However this joke, like almost any other Jewish joke, is a glimpse into
Jewish identity and Jewish politics. Moreover, Abe Foxman's reaction provides
us with a spectacular insight into Jewish political morbidity.
- Needless to say that Jones was quick to apologize. He
also said that the Joke distracted from the larger message he carried that
day, "that the United States' commitment to Israel's security is sacrosanct."
- The General's submissive response leaves me wondering
about America's commitment to itself. Clearly by rushing to appease AIPAC
and ADL, General Jones ended up in a similar position to his fictional
Taliban fighter who was begging two Jewish brothers for a sip of water.
- * The Washington Institute- an independent think tank
widely seen as being pro-Israel, was founded by Jewish donors who are now
on the institute's board.