VIDEO - National Security Adviser James Jones opened his remarks at the 25-year anniversary gala of the Washington Institute For Near East Policy last weekend with a joke in which a Jewish merchant fleeces a thirsty Taliban fighter.
CBS reported that the joke, which many claimed was in bad taste, was conspicuously absent from the version of the remarks distributed to the media.
Here is how it went: "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 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."
Foreign Policy reported that the participants, many of whom were Jewish, laughed heartily, but conservative blogs and some Jewish community leaders pounced on the remark.
Anti-Defamation League head Abe Foxman called the joke “inappropriate," saying, "It's stereotypic," he said. "Some people believe they need to start a speech with a joke; this was about the worst kind of joke the head of the National Security Council could have told."
Jones apologized on Monday, saying, "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. It also distracted from the larger message I carried that day: that the United States commitment to Israel's security is sacrosanct."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the joke was not included on the transcript because the release was based on Jones' prepared remarks.
Gibbs was quoted by CBS News as saying that the White House had not requested the apology and that it "rightly speaks for itself."