A former Israeli politician who now heads the Jewish Agency had a “frank and open conversation” with Jewish actor and comedian Seth Rogen about his controversial attacks on Israel and Judaism in an interview last week.
Seth Rogen, the Jewish comedian, unleashed what one Israeli newspaper called an “online firestorm” by attacking Israel and the Jewish religion this week. In a podcast with Mark Maron, Rogen challenged Israel’s legitimacy and said he’d been fed lies about the Jewish state his whole life.
Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, reached out to Rogen, he said, and spoke on Zoom about the actor’s comments. However, after Herzog published a Facebook post about their conversation the actor, Rogen distanced himself from the unpublished Zoom conversation with the Jewish Agency chairman.
Rogen told Israeli-American journalist Mairav Zonszein on Twitter that his mom made him call Herzog and that she should “read what I actually said about all this and not these secondhand telling.”
Herzog said when he spoke with Rogen, he immediately clarified “how important Israel is to him. And that, of course, Israel must exist.”
“I did not mean it at all. My words were said as a joke in a critical humorous dialogue with a Jewish fellow satirist,” Herzog quoted the actor. “I am aware of articles published about me in Israel and what was missing in the interview is how important Israel is to me… I was misunderstood and I apologize for the statement.”
While his apology was important, Herzog noted that Rogen’s statements have become fodder for “anti-Israel elements” that are “already using the interview to discredit the State of Israel in the world.”
“I told him that many Israelis and Jews around the world were personally hurt by his statement, which implies the denial of Israel’s right to exist,” Herzog wrote in a Facebook post. “One can definitely argue about policies and positions, as I did in my political career, but for me, the red line is the imposition of doubt on the right of existence of the Jewish State and the encouragement of its delegitimization. Rogen told me that this is not at all what he meant and explained his words were meant as a joke, taken from a critical, humorous exchange with a fellow Jewish comedian, he was misunderstood and apologized for that and I accepted his explanation.”
This explanation did not seem to fly. Most of the people commenting on both Facebook and Twitter on Herzog’s post said it was “too little, too late” for Rogen.
“don’t buy it. @Sethrogen has all the microphones in the world, 10 times more than he had before making that idiotic ‘jest’. He can stand up like a mench and tell the microphones what Israel really means to him. I have not heard him yet. I am listening,” said one Tweet.
Rogen was raised in a Jewish home in Canada.