The Targets of Jewish Humor

The recurring characters & subjects of Jewish humor leave no part of the Jewish world unscathed.

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Israelis & Palestinians

Even the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has not escaped the scope of Jewish jesters. Some facts are better conveyed in the form of a joke than in a serious lecture on history, as in the following anecdote:

At an emergency meeting of the Security Council of the United Na­tions, the ambassador of Israel and the chairman of the Palestinian Au­thority, Yasser Arafat, were scheduled to speak from the podium. The Israeli delegate was called first:

"Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to preface my remarks by telling you an old story of our folklore. When Moses was leading the Children of Israel through the wilder­ness, he felt extremely tired one late afternoon, and he decided to take a stroll. He walked away from the camp of the Israelites, and, lo and behold, he saw a lovely lake, right in front of him. He quickly took off his clothes, set them in a pile on the shore, and he went for a swim. Refreshed and relaxed, he came back to the shore and looked for his clothes, but they were nowhere to be found. 'Surely,' said he, 'some Palestinian must have stolen my clothes."

At this point, Yasser Arafat could not stand still anymore and he shouted: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is an abject lie, for everyone knows that there were no Palestinians in those days!

"Thank you, Mr. Arafat," said the Israeli ambassador. "That is correct, and that is indeed my first point. Now, I can proceed with my remarks."

This article is the third in a four-part series on the characteristics of Jewish humor. To read the next article in the series, click here.

This series originally appeared as a single article in Midstream magazine, which was anthologized in Best Jewish Writing 2003. It is reprinted with permission.

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Rabbi Leo M. Abrami served as the spiritual leader at Beth Emeth Congregation in Sun City West from 2002 to 2006.