The Subtleties of Jewish Humor

Dr. Lasha Darkmoon


In response to a recent article by Edmund Connelly on Jewish self-mockery, Kevin MacDonald had this to say: “The question is, what about media pieces that have an obvious anti-Jewish sub-text? Jews control the media, right? So why do we find clips like ‘Overcome stress by visualizing a greedy, hook-nosed race of creatures.’”

“The Jewish sub-text,” MacDonald points out, “is obvious to anyone with any knowledge of negative stereotypes of Jews. Connelly doesn’t really know the answer, and I don’t either. That’s why we are asking for suggestions.”

Having spent quite a lot of time pondering Jewish noses and negative stereotypes — I once devoted an entire essay to the subject  —  I hope I may be allowed to suggest an answer to this riddle.

It’s a case of Jewish irony. If you don’t get it, it’s not because you are irony deficient. This is not meant to be a criticism of your sense of humor, still less of your intelligence. No way! It’s just that you have failed to understand that an extremely subtle sense of irony is the hallmark of Jewish humor. It is so nuanced, so rarefied, that you are often not even aware it is irony. Jews get the joke, but the goyim usually don’t. They’re not meant to get it. That’s the whole point.

The apparent self-mockery of the Jew is actually an inverted way of patting himself on the back. Woody Allen and Sarah Silverman specialize in this sort of black humor. Jewish comics make a habit of poking fun at Jews and their supposed faults in order to convince us of the sheer absurdity of anti-Semitism.

Let me give you some examples.

A few years ago, when I was a schoolteacher, I set up a cartoon competition for the students in my class. One of the entries was sent in by a boy called Cohen with a chip on his shoulder 2000 years long. It was a picture depicting a massive billboard on a major motorway. It showed a hideous, bald-headed man who looked like he’d just stepped out of a Der Sturmer cartoon:  a monstrous beak of a nose, a bile green complexion, and a mouth coruscating with gold teeth. The caption read: “WARNING!!! WATCH OUT FOR ALIEN ABDUCTION!!! Green-eyed monsters, Martian ghouls, and men with funny hooked noses could come knocking on your door offering to sell you encyclopaedias!”

You see what I mean? This apparent self-mockery was actually a sneer at the goyim for being so out of touch with reality that they still—even after the Holocaust—didn’t seem to get the message that Jews are just like everyone else: a pretty harmless, well-meaning race that the rest of the world have ganged up against for some inexplicable reason.

Of course, if such a billboard as featured in Master Cohen’s cartoon should ever become an actual  billboard one day, a large number of irony-deficient Jews would scream “Anti-Semitism!” And an equally large chorus of irony-deficient goyim would undoubtedly join the same shrill choir.

But consider this: a large number of Jews who were in on the joke and who were NOT offended by the cartoon would also, at this point, raise tongue-in-cheek cries of “Anti-Semitism!” These are the pranksters. The incorrigible pisstakers. You see, it’s a huge mistake to assume that every Jew who complains of anti-Semitism is one big angry Jew. No, he’s often pretending to be angry. His rage is ersatz. He’s putting on the fury, secretly snickering up his sleeve that you should be so dumb as to take him seriously.

Incidentally, I gave Master Cohen first prize for his cartoon. I had no choice.  If I’d given him second prize, he would have complained of anti-Semitism!

You can’t win.

*          *          *

Now consider this cartoon by the famous British cartoonist Steve Bell:

Steve Bell, acclaimed Guardian cartoonist, won the British Political Cartoon Society 2003 Award with this cartoon depicting Ariel Sharon devouring babies. The usual suspects were incensed and Bell was stigmatized as an anti-Semite.

Ask yourself: would this cartoon have won a major competition in a politically correct country such as Britain if organized Jewry had been up in arms against it? Of course not. No, the Jews let it win for two reasons: (1) It proved that “free speech” was alive and kicking in Britain and that we actually live in an intensely anti-Semitic world in which Jews, ever the victims, are totally helpless to stop people saying bad things about them. (2) The cartoon, on another level, was also saying: How absurd that anyone should regard cuddly old Ariel as a “baby eater” when President George W Bush apparently thought the world of him. I mean, wasn’t this charismatic war hero, so adulated in Israel and Brooklyn, actually a “man of peace”?

It has to be asked: was Ariel Sharon upset or angry at Bell’s cartoon depicting him as a child-eating ghoul?  No, I am reliably informed that he was delighted. He was tickled pink. This reminds me of the story of French poet Charles Baudelaire who, in order to improve his image as a monster of depravity, began to circulate the story that he ate babies for breakfast.

The point about anti-Semitism is this: when people who are neutral to Jews — and that includes most people — are presented with gut-wrenchingly distasteful displays of anti-Semitism, the seed of philosemitism is sown in their hearts. Their first reaction is: How unfair this is to the Jews, how needlessly cruel.

Here lies the supreme paradox: Philosemitism can actually be manufactured through ironical and over-the-top displays of anti-Semitism. It’s all a part of social engineering.

*          *          *

A point worth bearing in mind is this: a Jew is permitted to tell an outrageous anti-Semitic joke that a non-Jew would be crucified for relating. Recently, National Security Adviser General James Jones gave a key note speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and started the ball rolling by telling a joke depicting Jews as greedy merchants. He clearly meant no harm. He probably thought it would be obvious to his audience that he was merely sending up the silly anti-Semitic “canard” that Jews were just a bunch of moneygrubbing Shylocks.

 “I’d like to begin with a story that I think is true,” General Jones begins, somewhat tactlessly.  “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.’”

Frankly, I think that’s funny. And if a Jew starts grinding his teeth with rage at such an innocuous joke, there has to be something seriously wrong with him. But sure enough, the joke was condemned by Jewish groups everywhere. Abe Foxman thought it “inappropriate”, and  the  Jewish Forward thought it “insensitive”. (See also here).

I have an anti-Zionist Jewish friend who told me this hilarious joke, adding a few embroideries of his own. He found it on a Jewish website, filed under “Israeli humor”. (See here). It’s the best example of Jewish self-mockery I’ve come across. I retell the joke in my own words, more or less as my Jewish friend told it to me.

If General Jones had told this joke, he would have been hanged, drawn and quartered.

This Israeli Jew arrives at Ben Gurion airport with two large suitcases. His name is Baruch and he’s been living in the United States. The customs agent opens up the first case and finds it stuffed with dollar bills. “How come you have all this money?” he asks.

Baruch grins and taps his hooked nose.

“Listen, I’ll tell you one way you can make a huge fortune in America. You just go into a public washroom and you see a guy having a pee. All you have to do is grab hold of his penis and say, ‘If you don’t donate ten bucks to Israel — for illegal settlements — I’m gonna cut off your goddamn penis!’ It’s fantastic, the amount of money you can make for Israel!”

“Wow, that’s cool!” says the customs agent. “So what’s in your other case?

Baruch shakes his head sadly.

“You just won’t believe,” he sighs, “the number of people in America who refuse to support Israel.” 

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27 Comments to "The Subtleties of Jewish Humor"

  1. Xanadu's Gravatar Xanadu
    September 4, 2010 - 6:14 am | Permalink

    Many a true word spoken in jest.

  2. Xanadu's Gravatar Xanadu
    September 4, 2010 - 6:11 am | Permalink

    This discussion wouldn’t be complete without my giving one final example of Jewish self-mockery.

    It shows Sigmund Freud at his wittiest and most cynical.

    When advised to take a holiday by one of his friends, Freud replied he couldn’t afford to take time off. “Because during my absence ” he explained, “most of my patients would be cured.”

  3. Glen's Gravatar Glen
    September 4, 2010 - 1:38 am | Permalink

    I agree with Jim. There are many Jews who, notwithstanding their hyper-ethnocentric upbringing and carefully cultivated sense of eternal victimhood, retain just enough rationality to recognise that Jews are, to a very significant extent, responsible for anti-Semitism. When they see the anti-White and anti-Christian behaviour of their less perspicuous brethren they feel deep embarassment, and often self-hatred – which is manifested in their humour. This can even extend to the point where they actually recognise the truth of Kevin MacDonalds thesis of Judaism as a GES that is inherently hostile to Whites and Christianity:

  4. September 3, 2010 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

    The “grabbler” skit by the Onion is 100 percent Jews-mocking-Gentiles who would ever blame anything on Jews and Jewish collectivism. The whole crux of the “grabbler” is:

    “Any criticism of Jews today is nothing but an irrational replay of the (so-called) ‘scapegoating’ phenomenon of Hitler and the National Socialists, and is absurd.”

    Here’s a new comment over at TheOnion at YouTube which is trying to set straight all the clueless “That’s anti-semitic!” commenters, and also trying to set straight all the “racist” commentors who are being ‘bad’ and using it as an opportunity to talk about Jews:
    ________________
    “This is sarcastic, it isn’t actually antisemitic. Are you aware that this is a joke about racism? Do you have any sense of irony at all?

    This is my one problem with humor like this, racist people cannot catch on to the fact that it is a joke.”
    ________________

    When I see some thinking that the skit is actually Jewish self-mockery, I realize how far the Gentile mind is away from the Jewish mind, and how often they play their games without us even catching it. Probably that old Gentile quality of disbelieving that they’d actually be mocking you right to your face. The “grabbler” is Jews mocking Germans, and mocking modern Jew-aware critics.

  5. Z.O.G.'s Gravatar Z.O.G.
    September 2, 2010 - 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Jane Sampson says:
    August 31, 2010 at 6:30 PM

    I think the *NSFW* encyclopedia dramatica is a jewish humor site.

    Of course it is.

  6. born agin' redneck's Gravatar born agin' redneck
    September 1, 2010 - 2:46 pm | Permalink

    And sometimes a detailed review of sickening and perverted “art” is just a review.

  7. September 1, 2010 - 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Bush makes Jewish Jokes in New York

  8. Jane Sampson's Gravatar Jane Sampson
    August 31, 2010 - 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I think the *NSFW* encyclopedia dramatica is a jewish humor site.

  9. August 31, 2010 - 4:59 pm | Permalink

    The poor gullible Goyim , no wonder Jews are so condescending.

    All those “Goyishe kop” jokes

    “We the Jewish people, control America and the Americans know it.”

    ( Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001, speaking to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio.)

    The Goyim is ruled by Jews & probably always has been.

    Jews look after themselves in every endeavor & if you are not of the tribe you have to have extra exceptional talent.

    2.5 % of Americans are Jews & they rule almost everywhere.

    Jews are embarrassed at how easy it is.

    The Goyim have that “Goyishe kop” & so don’t realize what’s going on.

  10. August 31, 2010 - 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Good piece. I saw a truly INCREDIBLE episode of the semi-kids’ cartoon TV series “South Park” where the “Jewzians” rule the world. I was visiting with David Duke in Europe and he told me I just HAD to see this.

    In short, the South Park kids (all drawn with the same egg-shaped heads) learn to their dismay that the whole “earth” is one big “reality show” that is about to be, yes, cancelled (oy vey for the goyim) by the cocaine-snorting, oral-sex loving alien species called Jewzians. These fat, unattractive alliens even have monstrous shnozzes!

    AND the Jewzians mock the kids by saying that it should have been obvous that “earth” is just a reality show because on normal planets there is peace because ‘there is only one race of people. We add other races so as to have interesting conflicts’ adn boost the ratings….. Wow.

    I can assure you that only arrogance allows the Jews to flaunt their Protocols-of-Zionism like this. If they feel there will be no really dangerous backlash of antisemitism, and if they control the “antisemitic” humor themselves, then they give in to flaunting their power to the max, via both humor and foolishly straightforward boasting — as in Joel Kline’s LA Times article gloating that ‘yes, we Jews DO run Hollyood’. -They want us to know they are nolonger afraid to boast just how powerful they feel themselvs to be, and how they are raping us. They feel they are in the end game with us.

    Now it is because they consider us to be “goyishe koppen,” cattlebrains in Yiddish, that they are sure, that they can get away with this. Big, big mistake. The Jews evince every trait that I mention in my key article here: http://johndenugent.com/jdn/psychopaths-in-power. And this psychopathy will yet be their downfall if we “carpe diem.”

  11. Burgermeister's Gravatar Burgermeister
    August 31, 2010 - 2:38 pm | Permalink

    “Look around…Nose jobs, blonde hairstyles, the desire to live in upscale neighborhoods, reproducing with white women…as much as they despise us, the whole non-white world is trying to be more white in one way or another, and jews are no exception. It’s a form of racial self-hatred”

    Jews are the ultimate White Supremists. Their mocking hatred of us stems from their desire to be like us. In short, they hate what they can’t become. Without the Jewish push of their hatred onto the other races, most of them would simply worship us from afar. Like gods. Truth.

  12. August 31, 2010 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    “Do I need to mention that they wildly succeeded in making better and funnier antisemitic cartoons than the Muslim antisemites themselves?”

    I don’t know about that.

  13. Petronius's Gravatar Petronius
    August 31, 2010 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    The Theda-Bara-anagram is more of a Hollywood-PR-legend, put in circulation during Theda’s years of fame. It was supposed to be suggestive of the exotic “oriental” vamps she played, such as “Cleopatra” in 1917. But it should not be taken serious.

    Besides from that, Lasha is certainly right. The “Grabbler joke” works on several levels: one is the hilarious taboo break about which the people in the fake TV show seem to be unconscious of (all the best jokes are about breaking cultural taboos), which makes it even funnier, then comes the mockery of stupid goys who through politically correct auto-censorship are unable to recognize anything Jewish as such, and finally, the absurdity of anti-semitism by showing comically exaggerated demonisations of Jews. The famous Jewish “antisemitic-cartoons-contest” that satirized the Iranian anti-Holocaust-cartoon-contest worked on that level.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_antisemitic_cartoons_contest
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/amitai/sets/72057594067999377/

    Do I need to mention that they wildly succeeded in making better and funnier antisemitic cartoons than the Muslim antisemites themselves? Message: “Jews are so clever and talented, they are even better and wittier antisemites!”

    A lot of this undeniable talent can indeed be partly explained by internalised Jewish self-hate, which seems to be part of their national character as well as the self-conscious Chutzpah … it seems like one is the flip side of the other, a fact about which no psychologist would be surprised.

  14. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    August 31, 2010 - 6:19 am | Permalink

    Barb,
    I’m not saying jews are sympathetic characters as a group, I’m just saying they’re not quite the hyper-intellectual, incredibly confident supermen that some folks around here sometimes unintentionally imply. They have chinks in their armor like everyone else. Self hatred is one of those chinks. It doesn’t exist in every jew, of course.

    Look around…Nose jobs, blonde hairstyles, the desire to live in upscale neighborhoods, reproducing with white women…as much as they despise us, the whole non-white world is trying to be more white in one way or another, and jews are no exception. It’s a form of racial self-hatred.

  15. Eileen's Gravatar Eileen
    August 30, 2010 - 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Lasha said: “The apparent self-mockery of the Jew is actually an inverted way of patting himself on the back.”

    I think you got it in one. Nice analysis. Thanks!

  16. barb's Gravatar barb
    August 30, 2010 - 5:14 pm | Permalink

    “If not, then why all the nose jobs?”

    The better to fool you into thinking they’re White like you with, My Dear.

  17. Finrod's Gravatar Finrod
    August 30, 2010 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Another example from Star Wars, besides Watoo, is the Jawa. Make a mental substitution in the name. I can’t figure out whether George Lucas has Jewish origins. His maternal name is Bomberg, which is suggestive.

  18. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    August 30, 2010 - 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I don’t experience self-hating behavior from jews, either. They’re often arrogant, in one way or another. Jewish self-hatred doesn’t mean they have an inferiority complex towards gentiles. They generally act superior, feel superior.

    Their self-hatred isn’t for our benefit. It just “is.” Centuries of being despised by European gentiles will do that, I guess.

  19. Isolde's Gravatar Isolde
    August 30, 2010 - 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I have never met a Jew with self hatred. The ones I’ve met have always been condesceding in their attitude especially when they realise I’m a practicing Catholic. It’s as if they are doing me a favour by associating with me. And to think I once thought that they were doing me a favour!

  20. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    August 30, 2010 - 11:23 am | Permalink

    While I agree that jews often promote (in a back handed way) some anti-semitism in order to gain sympathy from non-jews, I don’t think that explains all self-deprecating jewish humor. I can understand that folks on a blog like this might see jews as people who have some sort of psychological armor that’s impervious to our (gentiles) opinions and perceptions of them as a group. As self-serving and self-promoting as jews may be, however, I believe they’ve internalized some of the anger and hatred directed towards them over the centuries. Much (though not all) of this self-deprecating humor is self-hatred.

    Nobody asks to be born a jew, and some jews see their race/religion/culture as a curse (wouldn’t you?) Yeah, I think there’s a good deal of self-hatred among jews. If not, then why all the nose jobs?

  21. felipeb's Gravatar felipeb
    August 30, 2010 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    An example of what Jews can say that Gentiles cannot appeared in the Jewish Forward about Bernie Madoff being a hero to Jews until theu found out he cheated Jews too. It is a crude cartoon. It covers all the grounds mentioned.

    http://www.forward.com/articles/15032/

  22. Xanadu (aka Lasha Darkmoon)'s Gravatar Xanadu (aka Lasha Darkmoon)
    August 30, 2010 - 6:41 am | Permalink

    Edmund Connelly @ August 30, 2010 at 4:44 AM

    Edmund: You blew my mind with that revelation of yours. Who would have thought that the famous silent screen actress, THEDA BARA — a Jewess — should have chosen a name that is an anagram for ARAB DEATH?

    http://store.tidbitstrinkets.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/ThedaBara.jpg

    That really is quite extraordinary.

  23. Bantam's Gravatar Bantam
    August 30, 2010 - 5:22 am | Permalink

    What happens to the Gentile who forgets some subjects are the exclusive province of our benevolent Masters.

  24. Jane Sampson's Gravatar Jane Sampson
    August 30, 2010 - 5:21 am | Permalink
  25. Aki_Izayoi's Gravatar Aki_Izayoi
    August 30, 2010 - 5:18 am | Permalink

    Watto… Watto… Star Wars: The Phantom Menance !

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watto

  26. August 30, 2010 - 4:44 am | Permalink

    Lasha, thank you for the long exposition on Jewish humor. I was getting dismayed that the consensus seemed to be that most goyim in fact totally miss the Jewish angle to these things. Frankly, I can’t fathom that.

    I think, however, your explanations of Jewish irony are probably right. Other commentors made similar points, which I learned from as well.

    Turning to your own excellent article on Jewesses, let me that that one of the Jewish authors I cited, Stephen Whitfield, noted that
    “Theodosia Goodman, the daughter of a Cincinnati tailor, became a vamp name Theda Bara–an anagram for ‘Arab Death'” (American Space, Jewish Time, p. 158)

  27. August 29, 2010 - 11:22 pm | Permalink

    “A point worth bearing in mind is this: a Jew is permitted to tell an outrageous anti-Semitic joke that a non-Jew would be crucified for relating.”

    Yes, that’s a good point. It’s interesting to think about what the reaction to the Grabbler video would have been if it hadn’t come from a Jewish source, but a White one. “Oy vey!” the cry would come. “You are mocking the Holyco$t!” But of course, that’s exactly why Whites would never make such a video, even if, as seems far more likely, by making it they were really trying to mock anti-Semitic White people. They might like to do that, but are far too polite to take the chance of offending a Jew.

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