Seth Rogen Denies Apologizing over Remarks Questioning Israel’s Existence

US-Canadian actor Seth Rogen attends the special screening of Warner Bros Pictures' "Motherless Brooklyn" in Los Angeles, on October 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Seth Rogen on Monday denied apologizing over controversial comments made a week earlier questioning the point of Israel’s existence, saying all he did was offer “clarity” on the issue to the leader of the Jewish Agency who then misrepresented his remarks.

“I did not apologize for what I said. I offered clarity. And I think [Isaac Herzog] is misrepresenting our conversation,” Rogen told Haaretz following a Zoom conversation between the actor and the Jewish Agency chairman, Isaac Herzog.

In conversation with Marc Maron on his hour-long “WTF” podcast last week, Rogen denounced the idea of a Jewish state in Israel and said a “better strategy” after the Holocaust would have been to ensure that Jews are spread out all over the world and not concentrated in one place. “You don’t keep all your Jews in one basket,” he said.

“It makes no sense whatsoever,” he added.

He went on to say that there was no way he would ever live in Israel.

“To me it just seems an antiquated thought process,” Rogen said. “If it is for religious reasons, I don’t agree with it, because I think religion is silly. If it is for truly the preservation of Jewish people, it makes no sense, because again, you don’t keep something you’re trying to preserve all in one place — especially when that place is proven to be pretty volatile, you know? ‘I’m trying to keep all these things safe, I’m gonna put them in my blender and hope that that’s the best place… that’ll do it.’”

The 38-year-old actor and comedian further claimed he had been “fed a huge amount of lies about Israel” growing up in the Jewish day school system in Vancouver.

In his interview with Haaretz, Rogen admitted some of the comments surrounding Israel were said in jest, but that perhaps that wasn’t appropriate. He said:

I think that it’s a tricky conversation to have in jest. And that’s something that perhaps I now look at and say, ‘Oh, now that we joked about that, perhaps we could clarify some things so people don’t run around thinking that I think Israel shouldn’t exist anymore.’ And I’m sensitive to Jewish people being hurt, as a Jewish person. And I’m sensitive to Jewish people thinking I’m not a proud Jewish person, which I am.

He added: “And I am sensitive to Jews thinking that I don’t think Israel should not exist, and that there are a lot of Jewish people who are alive who wouldn’t be without Israel. And my parents met in Israel; I’ve been to Israel several times.”

“When you’re having a conversation about something so sensitive and nuanced, it’s not just what we said – well it’s partially what we said – but [it’s] also what we didn’t say. When you’re having even a humorous conversation about something so nuanced, leaving things out or omitting things can become just as bad as the things you do say,” he continued.

He also lamented some of his comments were taken out of context.

“Things I said were taken and chopped up, and the context literally removed from it, and if I read some of those things out of context I would also probably be upset about it,” he said.

Regarding the education he received as a child pertaining to Israel and its creation, Rogen said he was “just not given a full picture of the situation” but admitted that it is a “wildly complex picture” to give a child.

In his comments to Maron, Rogen said antisemitism today was “pervasive and prevalent.” Expounding on those remarks to Haaretz, Rogen claimed “anti-Semitic people also do thrive in Hollywood.”

“[S]o the notion that Jews control the careers of everyone in Hollywood is wildly inaccurate,” he said.

“Mel Gibson has made several movies over the last several years. He won an Academy Award for one of them, I think, in the wake of making horribly antisemitic comments,” he added.

Rogen also described President Donald Trump as a “white supremacist.”

“The president is [a] white supremacist, so things are not great here. And Republican politicians literally tweet blatantly antisemitic propaganda pretty regularly. It’s a weird time in America.”

Rogen’s comments on Maron’s show prompted the Jewish Agency to write a letter to Rogen’s parents who then went on tell their son to pick up the phone to the agency.

Rogen requested that his subsequent video call with Herzog not be recorded. Herzog tweeted a screenshot of the call and later deleted the tweet.

In a Facebook post, Herzog wrote: “Seth was kind enough to make clear to me that what was missing in the published interview was what he did not say: How important Israel is to him. And that, of course, Israel must exist.”

“He was misunderstood and apologized for that and I accepted his explanation,” Herzog went on.

However, Rogen then told journalist Mairav Zonszein from the far-left +972 Magazine that she should “read what I actually said about all this and not these secondhand telling.”

He added that his “mom made me call” Herzog.

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