April 27th, 2010
04:33 AM ET
12 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

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