A joke told by National Security Adviser James Jones to an elite Washington gathering is provoking controversy and suggestions by some that it veered dangerously close to anti-Semitism.
The joke was cut from the official White House-provided transcript of the speech, but was discovered after a report in an Israeli newspaper and in a videotape obtained by Fox News.
The retired general used the lengthy joke as an icebreaker last week before his address at an event honoring the 25th anniversary of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The tale got some big laughs out of the room — the institute is generally a pro-Israel organization — but Jones' opening has gotten some attention in the Israeli press. Guests told the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that it could have been inappropriate.
Here’s the video, with a transcript of what he said below:
"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. He looked on the horizon and he saw what looked like a little shack, and he walked toward that shack and as he got to it, turned out that it was a shack, a store, a little store owned by a Jewish merchant. And the Taliban warrior went up to him and said, 'I need water, get me some water.' 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.'
"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 saying 'I need water, you try to sell me ties, you people don't get it.'
"And passively, the merchant stood there until this Taliban was through with his diatribe and said, 'Well, I'm sorry but 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's a restaurant there, and they have all the water you'll need.'
"And the Taliban, instead of saying thanks, still muttering under his breath, disappears over the hill -- only to come back about an hour later and walking up to the merchant and says, 'Your brother tells me I need a tie in order to get into the restaurant.'"
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