- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Telling the following joke in public, at a meeting of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy no less, was not National Security Advsor Jim Jones’ finest moment in public service:
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.”
The White House clearly felt uncomfortable with the joke, and edited it out of an official transcript of the event.
Does this mean that that Jones is an anti-Semite? No. But it was an unnecessary and frankly stupid move that has the potential to do an awful lot of damage to both his career and his administration’s credibility. Assuming Jones gets the chance to speak on behalf of the U.S. government again, he’s probably better off leaving this kind of material to Jackie Mason.