April 26th, 2010
02:12 PM ET
11 years ago

Jones apologizes for joke

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/26/art.jjones.1209.gi.jpg caption=" National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones apologized Monday for a joke he made that drew criticism."]Washington (CNN) - National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (Ret.) apologized Monday for a two-minute joke he told before a pro-Israel think tank last week.

"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," Jones said in a statement. "It also distracted from the larger message I carried that day: that the United States commitment to Israel's security is sacrosanct."

The joke, which Jones told in front of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, involved a Taliban fighter who was lost in the desert in Afghanistan and stumbled upon a small store owned by a "Jewish merchant."

"And the Taliban warrior went up to him and said 'I need water, give me some water,'" Jones said. "And the merchant said 'I'm sorry I don't have any water, but would you like to buy a tie, we have a nice sale of ties today.'"

At this point, Jones said, the Taliban fighter launched into "a stream of language that I can't repeat about Israel, about Jewish people, about the man himself, about his family, he was just saying 'I need water, you try to sell me ties, you people don't get it.'"

"Well I'm sorry that I don't have water for you, and I forgive you for all of the insults that you've levied against me, my family, my country," Jones describe the merchant as saying. "But I will help you out. If you go over that hill and walk about two miles there's a restaurant there and they have all the water you'll need," the merchant replied.

Jones said the fighter walked away but returned an hour later and said: "Your brother tells me I need a tie to get in the restaurant."

The audience burst into laughter; some applauded.

But Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League was unimpressed.

"It's inappropriate, it's stereotypic, it engages in the worst types of stereotypes about Jews," Foxman told CNN.

"Some people shouldn't tell jokes, especially generals," he added.

Foxman said he accepts Jones' apology.

–CNN Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry contributed to this report

Filed under: Extra • James Jones • Popular Posts
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. mike

    what was wrong with that isn't the truth

    April 26, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  2. Bedtime for Obonzo

    That was pretty good! I'll have to remember it, and I'm a big supporter of Israel.

    April 26, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. Steve in North Carolina

    I thought it was funny! People need to lighten up. You can see more offensive stuff everyday on Comedy Central!

    April 26, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I've heard this joke before, but it didn't involve a particular sect of the population. And, yes, it was funny. The General tailored the joke to this audience, but forgot to take the 'measurements'. It turned out, of course, to be a poor fit.

    What the heck was the General thinking?!?

    April 26, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. Charlie in Maine

    It is very old joke and very funny. Dear Isreal, I apologize for laughing so hard.

    April 26, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  6. AC

    This is what we consider offensive these days? Realllyy?

    April 26, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Out of sick curiosity, is the General a Republican?

    April 26, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  8. darrell

    I agree 100% with Abraham Foxman.

    April 26, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. Dick Cheney For President In 2012

    This "joke" would have probably gone unnoticed a year ago. But after the Obama Administration has seemingly gone out of their way to alienate Israel at every opportunity, I can see where some people may be sensitive

    April 26, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    I found the joke funny and inappropriate. definitely the wrong audience for that joke. I am worried about the generals ability to think if did not realize that it might be inappropriate.

    April 26, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The reality is, it's a joke and no more. The truth is the joke is much of a comparison to Israel's policy for travelers entering their country.

    April 26, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. jeff milligan, Las Cruces, NM

    The joke is actually kind of funny; very appropriate, given the political climate vis-a-vis Palestine and Israel. I can't believe I am saying this, but people need to lighten up and quit being offended at everything; could you justify it? perhaps. SHOULD you? Not always. It seems that today people look for things to disagree on, and then do all they can to draw attention to the differences, rather than the common ground. Oh, BTW, I am a self-described Socialist- Democrat ( a la Norway, etc.), so this is thought from the left...

    April 26, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    I don't blame the Jewish man....for being angry and insulted!
    And no, I am not Jewish... I am Episcopalian!

    April 26, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  14. Steve

    That's actually a pretty funny joke

    April 26, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  15. geecee

    I have to admit, the joke is funny, but inappropriate under the circumstances!!

    April 26, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  16. Ryan

    Actually that was pretty cute. I'm not advocating stereotypes but at the same time...there's truth in humor and stereotypes DO exist for a reason.

    April 26, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. El Gordo

    Well it was funny when he heard it.

    April 26, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. Edward Stoler

    I must believe that if the joke was concerning a Black man ,the media and the administation would NOT have considered this funny or exceptable. I am sure the outcry would have created the stage for Jones to resign his position rather then simply saying he was sorry.

    April 26, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Ron in California

    Actually, the joke wasn't bad..It is a shame how some take offense just to make headlines.

    April 26, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  20. GI Joe

    There is nothing wrong with that joke. It was funny and a form of comical relieve.

    April 26, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  21. vs

    Good joke but inappropriate for the audience and occasion.

    April 26, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. Eli

    Don't worry, General. You'll be fine. You made a smart career decision and work for a liberal Democrat president. Therefore, the rule of political correctness don't apply to you.

    April 26, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  23. Ken

    I've heard worse, that's funny lol

    April 26, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  24. Phil

    What's next, General, some "negro" jokes at the NAACP?

    April 26, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. RH

    Abe Foxman sees anti-Semitism in his morning bowl of corn flakes. Lighten up. I am a Jew, by the way.

    April 26, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
1 2