Gen. Jones Apologizes for Jewish 'Joke'

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Gen. Jones: what words escaped the barrier of your teeth? "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." Huh?

Speaking to the Washington Institute For Near East Policy this weekend, Gen. Jim Jones, the National Security Adviser, attempted a little ribbing. It's one thing for a Jewish person to tell a  schmaltzy joke involving, uh, Jewish merchants, but that stereotype is so old that even Jews don't self-mock that away anymore. That said, give the guy props for somehow making fun of the Taliban at the same time. 

In order to set the stage for my remarks I'd just like to tell you a story that I think is true. It happened recently in southern Afghanistan. A member of the Taliban was separated from his fighting party and wandered around for a few days in the desert, lost, out of food, no water. And he looked on the horizon and he saw what looked like a little shack and he walked towards that shack. And as he got to it, it turned out it was a little store owned by a Jewish merchant. And the Taliban warrior went up to him and said, "I need water, give me some water." And the merchant said, "I'm sorry, I don't have any water but would you like a tie. We have a nice sale of ties today."

Whereupon the Taliban erupted into a stream of language that I can't repeat, about Israel, about Jewish people, about the man himself, about his family, and just said, "I need water, you try to sell me ties, you people don't get it." The merchant stood there until the Taliban was through with his diatribe and said, "Well I'm sorry I don't have water for you and I forgive you for all of the insults you've levied against me, my family, my country. But I will help you out. If you go over that hill and walk about two miles there is a restaurant there and they will have all the water you need." And the Taliban, instead of saying thanks, still muttering under his breath, disappears over the hill, only to come back an hour later, and walking up to the merchant says, "Your brother tells me a I need a tie to get into the restaurant."

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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