Munther Isaac Tells Antisemitic Joke at CATC Peacemaking Conference, Gets Laugh
Munther Isaac is a clever and well-educated man who did a very stupid thing at the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference that took place in Bethlehem a couple of weeks ago.
He told an antisemitic joke that, sickeningly enough, elicited laughter from Evangelical Protestants in attendance at the conference. The joke is easy to follow for people who know their New Testament.
What is most astonishing is that Munther’s joke, and the audience’s response, is all there for people to see on video here. (The joke is told at about 17 minutes and 20 seconds into the video.)
Here’s the set up.
Isaac, a Palestinian Christian and CATC conference organizer who is about to receive his Ph.D. from the Oxford Center for Mission Studies, spoke on the night of Thursday, March 13, 2014, the second to last day of the conference. The scripture he was using in his talk was the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), which tells the story of a man being robbed and left for dead by the side of the road.
According to the parable, two religious men a priest and a Levite (Jews) walk passed him ignoring his plight. Finally, a man (known as the Good Samaritan), stops and helps him. Isaac then says the following:
By the way, the two religious people, why did they not stop? This question was asked to a Sunday school boy and the boy answered, “Well because he had no money left.”
The implication is that if the man suffering by the side of the road, the priest and the Levite, both Jews, would have stopped to help the man if he had ... money. A slight smirk can be seen on Isaac’s face before the camera cuts to the audience to show many (but not all) of them laughing.
Isaac elicits more laughter when he jokes that the reason why the two religious men did not stop was that they were on their way to a Christian conference.
Nice try, Munther, but the whole premise of the joke is based on the association of Jews with greed and money.
It was an inappropriate joke for Isaac to tell at a peacemaking conference, especially after he himself condemned the antisemitic words his fellow Palestinians have used to describe Jews. “Many [Palestinians] call Jews by names that I am ashamed to utter and sometimes it comes from religious people I call preachers of hate.”
It doesn’t help that in this same speech, Isaac stated that Israel is unreasonable in its demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state. And it doesn’t help that Isaac told this story at a conference where three of his countrymen lied about the security barrier.
But there it is.
Munther Isaac, a Palestinian Christian leader, and peacemaker, told an antisemitic joke about Jews and money to an audience of Evangelical Protestants 20 different countries around the world.
And he got a laugh.
Posted by Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg