“So, five million Jews and 100 million Arabs walk into a bar…”

Received by email, the latest wit and wisdom from Russian jokesters.

A Russian general is giving a lecture at a military academy.  During the question and answer period, a cadet asks, “Sir, do you think we’re ever going to have a war with China?”

“Unfortunately,” the general replies, “that is quite possible.”

“But that means we’re done for!” exclaims the cadet. “How could we possibly win?  There’s nearly a billion and a half of them, and less than 150 million of us!”

“Now now, young man,” replies the general, “don’t be so defeatist.  Numbers aren’t everything.  Look at Israel — they’ve only got five million people, and they’ve been holding their own against 100 million Arabs for sixty years!”

“Yes Sir, you’re absolutely right!” says the cadet. “Thank you!  But I do have one more question.  Do we have enough Jews?”


Filed under Israel, Middle East, Russia, Russian political humor

2 responses to ““So, five million Jews and 100 million Arabs walk into a bar…”

  1. Steve Toby

    It is well to remember that the stereotypes trotted out in this anecdote are barely more than 50 years old. Before that, Jews were considered incompetent to be soldiers, lacking in both bravery and physical stamina.

    In 1914, my grandfather, a leading citizen among the Jews of Mogador in the then French colony of Morocco, received a letter from Paris informing him that he and 200 other young men were required to report for duty with the French Army in Casablanca. He responded, requesting the Army send 2 men to escort them “to protect us from bandits on the road.”

    The General Staff in Paris shared the then current sterotypes of Jews (perhaps they were influenced by the Dreyfus Affair, even though Mr. Dreyfus had been exonerated of the treason charge and reinstated as an Army officer in 1906). They responded that if 200 men of military age needed an escort, they were obviously cowards, would be useless in combat, and could be excused from military duty. That’s how my grandfather managed to escape involvement in World War I.

    As late as the 1950’s, in the movie version of “Ivanhoe,” the Jewish woman who becomes Sir Ivanhoe’s patron, buying him a horse, armor, and weapons for his appearance in the jousting tournament, has a line that contradicts the modern notions of Israeli prowess: “We no longer answer to the sound of trumpets,” or something like that. I haven’t watched that movie in years, but I still remember that line.

  2. Very interesting anecdote! I think that in Russia, the Israel-generated stereotype of “warlike Jews” still coexists with that of Jews as cowardly/unmanly — there’s a fairly common belief that during WWII, Jews who served in the armed forces typically managed to find themselves cushy spots far away from combat lines. In fact, critics of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s book about the “Jewish question” in Russia, Two Hundred Years Together, accused him of recycling this stereotype (which, as they pointed out, is contradicted by statistics on the percentage of Jews both among Soviet soldiers killed in combat and among those who received medals and awards for valor in combat).

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