|THIS COMMENTARY ABOUT HOSTILITY TO CHRISTIANITY AND NON-JEWS IN JEWISH
JOKES WAS MADE BY A SCHOLAR AT AN ONLINE DISCUSSION GROUP:
There's no question that Jewish hostility to goyim appears in their humor. Take, for example:
Three recent Jewish converts to Christianity were being tested.
"What is Easter?" the first man was asked.
"Easter is when Jesus was born."
"Go back and study," they said to him. "Next!"
"What is Easter?"
"Easter," said the second man, "was when Jesus split the Red Sea."
"I'm sorry," he was told. "You'll have to do some more studying. Next!"
"What is Easter?" the third man was asked.
"Easter," he said tentatively, "was when Christ was reborn."
"Excellent. Please continue."
"Well," the man said cautiously, "he was in the grave for three days. . . ."
"Very good; and then?"
"And then he came out, saw his shadow--and went back in!"
As a further example of Jewish humor, Steven Whitfield shares this relatively innocuous but revealing joke about Gentiles:
"Why did God create goys?"
"Somebody has to buy retail."
Whitfield notes that Moritz Saphi "may well have been the first writer to perceive Jewish wit as 'the defense and weapon of the oppressed,' a way of getting revenge and a form of stress management." As an example, he discribes a pious Jew on his deathbed who announces that he wants to covert to Christianity. Shocked, his family asks why. "Better one of them should go than one of us."
Cutting humor about Christianity is at times a staple of Jewish American humor, though Jews have been careful to gauge the reception such humor among Gentiles is likely to receive. One comic who pushed these limits--further than many Jews of the era would have preferred--was Lenny Bruce. In a "funny variation on Jewish delusions and gentile nightmares," Bruce joked about Presidential contender Barry Goldwater:
"So dig. Goldwater lives in Arizona. He did a switch, man. He says, "Frig it. I'll keep my name and I'll change my religion." That was his bit. That's weird, you know? Finally we have a man in--that's going to be Goldwater's last step: gets in, gets before the T.V. cameras for the acceptance speech, and he rips off the mask and you see the big nose and the semitic look and the spittle coming out and [Goldwater screaming vindictively] "YAHAHAHAAAAAA! WE'LL BURN ALL THE CHURCHES!"
In a Chicago nightclub, Bruce performed one of his most famous routines:
" You and I know what a Jew is--One Who Killed Our Lord. I don't know if we got much press on that in Illinois--we did this about two thousand years ago. . . . And although there should be a statute of limitations for that crime, it seems that those who neither have the actions nor the gait of Christians, pagans or not will bust us out, unrelenting dues, for another deuce. Alright, I'll clear the air once and for all, and confess. Yes, we did it. I did it, my family. I found a note in my basement. It said: "We killed him . . . signed, Morty." And a lot of people say to me, "Why did you kill Christ?" "I dunno . . . We killed him because he didn't want to become a doctor, that's why we killed him."
(In an ironic--or not so ironic--observation, one scholar writing about Bruce notes how Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel "had carefully grafted the news report of Lenny's death into the fade-out of the haunting `Silent Night' . . . `Comedian Lenny Bruce died today in his home in Los Angeles . . ./Sleep in Heavenly Peace. . . .' For these two Jewish boys raised in Queens the comedian was clearly a Christ figure, and they were turning a lullaby celebrating the birth of Christianity into a dirge for a Jewish death . . ." )
Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner share a milder story about Christ, "The Two Thousand Year-Old Man," which begins:
"You're a little storekeeper in Nazareth, and I would like to know what happened the day when they crucified Christ on the mountain. Did you know Christ?
Yes; thin, thin, nervous--wore sandals. Came in the store, didn't buy much, mainly water, wanted water--so I gave him water. Look! You have a business. You can't always make a sale. So when people want water, you give them water. But one thing I have to admit. He was a bit of a troublemaker. He beat up a couple of rovs on the steps of the shul--and you know you can't do that! But they didn't have to nail him up. They could have given him a severe lecture. I didn't agree with such a severe punishment. Oh, such a terrible day! All that yelling and screaming up on the mountain. I tell you it was very upsetting. In fact, it got so bad, I had to close up the store."
Novack and Waldoks relate a joke that is a good summation of three Jewish themes relating to Gentiles: love of the shiksa, social acceptance, and Gentile gullibility:
" Three Jews who have recently converted to Christianity were having a drink together in a posh WASP country club. They started talking about the reasons for their conversions.
"I converted out of love," said the first, and noticing the dubious looks on his friends' faces, he continued: "Not for Christianity, mind you, but for a Christian girl. As you both know, my wife insisted that I convert."
"And I," said the second, "I converted in order to rise in the legal system. You probably know that my recent appointment as a federal judge may have had something to do with my new religion."
The third man spoke up: "I converted because I think that the teachings of Christianity are superior to those of Judaism."
"Are you kidding?" said the first man, spitting out his drink. "What do you take us for, a couple of goyim?"
This joke, Stephen Whitfield writes, "reveals more than a hint of contempt toward a sister monotheism. It slyly stabs at the mental inferiority ascribed to non-Jews, whose religious creed is too preposterous to be credible."