Virginia GOP official apologizes for anti-Semitic joke

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An official in the Virginia Republican Party apologized for an anti-Semitic joke.

“Earlier this week, I made a lighthearted attempt at humor to which some have taken offense,” John Whitbeck, the party chairman in the state’s 10th Congressional District, said in a statement posted Sept. 20 on its website. “It was certainly not my intent to offend anyone and I sincerely apologize to those who were.”

Whitbeck, introducing Ken Cuccinelli, the state’s attorney general and GOP candidate for governor last week, related a joke that had the Jews presenting the pope with a bill for the Last Supper.

Cuccinelli said the joke was inappropriate, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington condemned it.

Whitbeck at first refused to apologize, saying he had heard the joke from his priest and claiming to be the victim of Democrats and their allies ahead of a hotly contested gubernatorial campaign.

Ron Halber, the director of the Washington JCRC, said he spoke Monday with Whitbeck, who apologized again.

“There was clearly pressure from within the Republican ranks on him to apologize,” Halber told JTA. “But he was genuinely apologetic and was educated as to what he said had been hurtful.”

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