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July 01, 1988 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-07-01

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Roles Of
The Humorous

Answer: For calling a gov-
ernment minister a
jerk. Three of the 13
years were for in-
sulting a govern-
ment official; the
other 10 were for
disclosing a state
Ivan walked into a shop.
"You don't have any meat, do
you?" he asked Khaim the clerk.
"No, here we don't have any
fish. Next door, at the butcher's,
they don't have any meat,"
replied Khaim.
As Abram and Sarah passed
the headquarters of the KGB in
Leningrad on the tram, he
"Abram;' whispered Sarah,
"how many times have I told you
not to carry on political discus-
sions in public?"
"Shapiro, we know you have
a brother abroad;' said the KGB
"I do not;' Shapiro protested
"Don't lie to us, Shapiro. We
even have these letters from him
addressed to you and postmark-
ed Jerusalem," the official
"Ah, you don't understand;'
explained Shapiro. "It's not my
brother who is abroad; it is I!"
The two authors, David A. Harris
and Izrail Rabinovich, first met in Rome
10 years ago in the HIAS office. They
conferred in an exchange of letters and
files when they were separated, and
resorted to the mails in the making of
"The Jokes of Oppression." The volume
will entertain and may be cause for con-
cern that the Jews should make fun at
the expense of an antagonistic regime.
The minimal seriousness of such a
"threat" has been properly indicated by
the authors and should be understan-
dable by all who crave telling jokes at
one's own expense as a human nor-
malcy. It must especially be recognized
as a Jewish trait.



he Mocking of the Presidents"
by Gerald Gardner earns a spot
in American history writing.
Jesting stories about our presidents is,
in a sense, a chapter in history. With
every story there is the appended occa-
sion of the humor.

Recognition by Gardner of the role
of the media and the electoral cam-
paigns adds significance to his collected
efforts. He makes the comment:
America's humorists. What
would we do without them dur-
ing the quadrennial marathons
called presidential elections?
Thank heavens for Art
Buchwald, Mark Russell, Garry
Trudeau, Jules Feiffer, Mort
Sahl, Paul Conrad, Pal
Oliphant, and Herblock, for the
National Review the "National


FRIDAY, JULY 1, 1988

Lampoon, and Punch, for
Johnny Carson and Bob Hope
and "Saturday Night Live." And
with a look over our shoulders,
we can thank heavens for the
creators of "Laugh-In" "The
Smothers Brothers Comedy
Hour," and "That Was the Week
That Was."
For students of American history,
applicable to our own time, and lovers
of humor and good stories dealing with
events and personalities, there are
added comments that create deep in-
terest. The following is worth quoting:
There is irony in the fact that
the people who create our most
delicious campaign humor —
columnists, cartoonists, and
comedians — often have a
serious conflict of interest.
Editorial cartoonist Jeff
MacNelly of the Chicago Tri-
bune expressed it well when he
said that he is often torn bet-
ween "what is good for my coun-
try and what is good for my
It might be observed that
Richard Nixon's fiercest foes in
the comedic community would
have been bereft of humor had
he lost the 1972 election to
George McGovern. Cartoonists
and monologists found it more
fruitful to have a repressed,
manipulative man in the White
House rather than a benign
populist. If each man kills the
thing he loves, as Oscar Wilde
said, then each humorist loves
the thing he kills.
If humor makes life more
manageable for the presidential
candidate, it also sustains the
beleaguered staff members who
travel with him and the cor-
respondents who are forever
chasing down stories and lost
luggage as the candidate con-
tinues on his frantic
As a sometime participant in
national political struggles, I am
drawn to the unmistakable con-
clusion that it is impossible to
endure the stresses of the cam-
paign trail without a well-
developed sense of humor. Adlai
Stevenson liked to have witty
people about him — on his staff
and in his press entourage.
Ronald Reagan loved to swap
jokes with anyone within ear-
shot. Gerald Ford thrived on
funny lines and anecdotes. Jack
Kennedy swapped jokes daily
with the reporters who covered
him. Most incumbents and
challengers demand this steady
infusion of humor.
As this book will make
eminently clear, given the antic
and satiric nature of our media
and professional humorists,
they are not likely to ever be
without it.
There is an applicable lesson here
also for the topic related to Russian
Jewish humor. It is the advice to deal
with humor respectfully when it
sometimes, or very often, irks the

reader. One learns while being

Russian Jewish
Random Selections


rom the Russian Jewish joke
book, here are several yarns
selected at random:
Rosenfeld emigrated to
Israel in 1970.
"How old are you?" he was
asked by an Israeli immigration
"Twenty-two," was the man's
"What? You must be at least
70;' said the official.
so," replied
Rosenfeld, "but can you really
call the last 50 years living?"
After submitting an applica-
tion to emigrate, Rabinovich
was duly summoned to OVIR.
The harangue began.
"Rabinovich, how could you
possibly want to go to a country
like Israel? Do you realize that
the sun is so strong in the sum-
mer that you won't be able to
stand it? And in the winter it
does nothing but rain. The
climate is just awful."
The OVIR official continued
in the same manner for several
more minutes while Rabinovich
did nothing but sway from side
to side, muttering to himself,
"Yes, no, yes, no, . . ."
"Excuse me, Rabinovich, but
can you please explain to me
why you're acting in this
strange manner?" the official
"Sure," came the answer.
"On the basis of what you were
saying, I was simply trying to
decide whether or not it would
be worthwhile to take my um-
brella with me."

Israel's Duty
To 'Pacifist'


self-acclaimed "pacifist" whose
multiple essays are mere pro-
vocations to rock-throwers who
keep creating more serious problems for
Israelis in their compulsion to defend
their state and nation has become a tool
for hatred of Israel amost on a global
basis. Mubarak Awad, who has been
barred from continuing residence in
Israel by that nation's high court, is now
the ethics producer for the critics of
Israel. He has become the means of fan-
ning disrespect for the Jewish state.
They would deny to Israel the
legislative right to decide who is to be
privileged to reside in Israel.
Israel Ambassador to the United
States Moshe Arad served an important
purpose in his definition of that legal
and diplomatic right of the Israelis, as
pronounced by the Supreme Court of
Israel, in the NYTimes Op-Ed page ar-
ticle "Why Israel Deported Awad." So
that the many who may be misled by
Anthony Lewis, Flora Lewis and others
among their associates may be guided

Moshe Arad
properly in the Awad issue, this portion
of Ambassador Arad's explanation ex-
posing Awad must be given wide
In a speech in Jerusalem on
March 22, he unequivocally
stated his goal: "The PLO wants
the entire Palestine, and I agree
. . . Palestine for me is the
Galilee, Akko (acre), Ashdod —
everything! This is Palestine for
me." On other occasions, depen-
ding on the audience, Mr. Awad
has spoken about a two-state
Support for the PLO ad-
vocacy of the dismantling of the
Jewish state, refusal to condemn
armed struggle, nonviolence as
merely a convenient tactic, par-
ticipation in the authorship of
leaflets encouraging residents of
the West Bank and Gaza to
engage in incitement and acts of
violence — are these the wat-
chwords of a man truly commit-
ted to peace and moderation?
Compare Mr. Awar's words
with Dr. King's unequivocal con-
demnation of all violence. "Not
only is violence impractical," the
Nobel laureate once declared,
"but it is immoral; for it is my
firm conviction that to seek to
retaliate with violence does
nothing but intensify the ex-
istence of evil and hate in the
My country will continue its
40-year pursuit of peace, but on-
ly with partners that renounce
violence and terror and
recognize the existence of Israel.
And Israel, as any country — in-
cluding the United States —
reserves the right to determine
who can enter and reside in its
territory and to bar visitors
from engaging in hostile
political activity.
This declaration is a necessity as a
repudiation of the distortion of facts and
fanning disrespect for Israel. The essay
by Ambassador Arad helps correct an
The ambassador's statement is an
affirmation of Jewish rights, and they
are not to be bargained or tampered

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