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Seth Rogen: ‘I Was Fed a Huge Amount of Lies About Israel My Entire Life’

"There were people there. They make it seem like it was just like sitting there, like the f---ing door’s open!”
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July 29, 2020
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 02: Honoree Seth Rogen speaks onstage at The Workers Circle 2019 Annual Benefit at JW Marriott Essex House on December 02, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Actor Seth Rogen said on the July 27 “WTF With Marc Maron” podcast that he has been “fed a lot of lies about Israel my entire life,” stating that he never had been told that people had inhabited the land that later became the State of Israel.

Rogen and host Marc Maron were discussing Rogen’s upcoming movie, “An American Pickle,” in which Rogen plays a 1920s Jewish immigrant and his great-grandson. Rogen and Maron discussed their Jewish backgrounds. At one point, Maron pointed out that in the aftermath of the Holocaust, there was an effort to disperse Jewish refugees throughout various countries.

“That’s a better strategy,” Rogen said. “You don’t keep all your Jews in one basket.”

Maron said that his mother and her generation are “hung up on Israel and they find some comfort it. I’ve been there and I’m like, ‘I couldn’t imagine living here!’ ”

Rogen agreed, although he acknowledged that Israel has some “nice parts.”

“To me, it just seems very, like 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 truly for 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 has proven to be pretty volatile.”

He compared the idea that Israel is necessary to preserve the Jewish people to using a blender to keep things safe.

Rogen proceeded to claim that “as a Jewish person, I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life,” stating that young Jews are never told “there were people there. They make it seem like it was just like sitting there, like the f—ing door’s open!”

Maron suggested that it isn’t taught so “when you get old enough you will make sure that money goes to Israel and that trees are planted and that you always speak highly of Israel and Israel must survive no matter what.”

“Yeah, and I don’t understand it at all,” Rogen replied. “And I think for Jewish people especially, who view themselves as progressive and who view themselves as analytical and who view themselves as people who ask a lot of questions and really challenge the status quo, like, what are we doing?”

Maron said he gets “frightened to talk about it,” prompting Rogen to quip that if anybody could talk about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it’s “two famous Jewish people who, you know, if anybody’s getting rounded up first, it’s our f—ing a—es. We are outwardly Jewish.”

Rogen’s remarks on Israel drew praise from progressive Jewish groups.

“@Sethrogen you don’t have to be afraid of all Jews, some of us are right there with you!! (thank you for your courage and your truth-telling),” former Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson tweeted. “And that goes for you too @marcmaron — join us!”

IfNotNow tweeted, “.@SethRogen really said #YouNeverToldMe.” “You Never Told Me” is an IfNotNow campaign that “shares the experiences of Jewish summer camp, day school, and youth group alumni who grew up in institutions that ignored or justified the Occupation,” according to the campaign’s website.

 

Other Jewish voices on Twitter criticized Rogen’s comments.

“Benny Morris, a distinguished historian who continued to dig into Israel’s history after the 80’s archives openings, details all population in Palestine and the [Middle East] long before 1948,” pro-Israel writer Claire Voltaire tweeted. “Only reactionary people who initially had cursory knowledge of Israel, think this is new info.”

 

Siamak Kordestani, West Coast director of the pro-Israel nongovernmental organization European Leadership Network (ELNET), asked how much Rogen knew “about the many hundreds of thousands of Mizrahi Jews ethnically cleansed from Arab lands in the 1940s and ’50s, who then sought refuge in Israel? Their lives mattered too.”

 

Rogen noted in a July 28 tweet that he has visited Israel a few times and his parents met there.

He has mentioned in the past that his parents met in an Israeli kibbutz and that he lovingly calls them “radical Jewish socialists.”

In 2014, Rogen signed a statement expressing support for Israel during its conflict against Hamas that summer.

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