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Do the kinds of political joke that get circulated in a polity depend on the structure - page 39 / 46

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Douglas Ayling

Two Jews are about to enter the gas chamber in Auschwitz. One of them turns to the S.S. guard to make a last request for a glass of water. “Shah, Moshe,” says his friend. “Don’t make trouble.”65

Both sources also show a bias in Jewish jokes (relative to non-Jewish jokes) towards jokes

which relate to the state, rather than to the regime – a bias that is understandable

considering the manner in which the daily life of a Jewish citizen in these political systems

was intimately bound with the operation of state apparatuses.

The difficulty in drawing conclusions from comparing Jewish and non-Jewish

humour within regime type, stems from being unable to ascertain whether jokes have been

classified as Jewish because they were circulated disproportionately by the Jewish

community in contradistinction to other, more mainstream political jokes; or whether in

fact the compiler has instituted chapter divisions having collated all the material and seeing

that some of it refers to Jewishness – and some does not. Where the latter is the case such a

selection process will tend to reduce representation within the Jewish chapter or section, of

jokes from Jewish sources that are directed purely towards the state, the regime or the

ideology – since they will be categorised as “not-Jewish”.

65

Lipman (1991), p.193

page 39

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