Seth Rogen much like so many privileged Canadian and American Jews who have absolutely no idea of how the indigenous Palestinians live, six years ago actually signed a petition supporting the 2014 IDF massacre in Gaza.This was an ignorant tribal action with absolutely no forethought or understanding. No thoughtful Jew in touch with biblical Judaic values would ever do such a thing. It was simply a reflex action. Now Rogen in this time of COVID has awakened from his ethical slumber.
Jonathan S. Tobin writes in Haaretz
Like so many other celebrities who have gotten into trouble with wayward comments or tweets concerning the Jews and/or Israel, Seth Rogen now says he was misunderstood.
He may have been joking when he told host and fellow Jewish comedian Marc Maron on the hugely popular “WTF” podcast that the existence of Israel “doesn’t make sense to me.” But the response from much of the Jewish world was immediate and angry.
Coming on the heels of author Peter Beinart’s broadside published in The New York Times calling for replacing the Jewish state with a bi-national entity, a rant from an actor whose image and roles have generally portrayed him as a stereotypical Jew, seemed to be just one more indication of the growing divide between Israel and the Diaspora.
Critics of Israel couldn’t be faulted for jumping on the interview as proof of opposition to Zionism and the policies of the Netanyahu government. Rogen claimed that, “As a Jewish person I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life! They never tell you that — oh by the way, there were people there. They make it seem like it was just like sitting there, like the fucking door’s open! … They forget to include the fact to every young Jewish person.”
Many of those pro-Israel voices that responded to Rogen emphasized what they rightly considered his seeming ignorance of the history that made a Jewish state a necessity.
A native of Vancouver, Canada, Rogen went to Jewish schools as well as a Jewish camp and his parents met while volunteering at a kibbutz in the 1970s.
The actor, says he doesn’t want anyone to think that he believes Israel shouldn’t exist even though that was the plain implication of his podcast comments. But his words resonated specifically because they are very much in tune with the opinions of the woke Jewish left that tends to predominate in Hollywood as well as among non-Orthodox Jews.
Despite the arguments of the Jewish left, the growing Israel-Diaspora divide has little to do with opinions about the settlers or even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closeness with President Donald Trump, who is despised by the vast majority of American Jews like Rogen. The difference between these two Jewish tribes goes far deeper than politics. The American Jewish problem with Israel is not with what it does but with what it is.
The two nations are bound together by support for the values of democracy and are natural allies in the context of the contemporary Middle East. But there is a profound difference between the American experiment in democracy, which is avowedly non-sectarian, and a nation state whose purpose is to provide a home and security for one specific people that had been persecuted for 20 centuries. Like most other nations on the planet, Israel is an expression of particularism. Its priority is to reconstitute and defend Jewish sovereignty in the ancient homeland of the Jews and not to be the last and best hope of all mankind.
The inherent tension between a state whose purpose is sectarian but which seeks to govern itself democratically and with respect for the rights of the religious and ethnic minorities within its borders is a perennial theme of Israeli debates. But even in its most idealized form, a particularist project such as Zionism has been a difficult sell for American Jews.
Having found a home in which not only were they were welcomed and granted free access to every sector of society but also in which the non-Jewish majority proved willing to marry them, it is unsurprising that many American Jews have always had difficulty coming to tP With non-Orthodox Judaism having embraced social justice as its primary focus, support for Jewish nationalism is at odds with the mindset of American Jewry’s leading activist and faith organizations.
The Holocaust and then the drama of Israel’s creation and early wars effectively squelched anti-Zionist sentiment as an active political force for a time. But that seeming consensus ended once the murder of six million Jews — who had no homeland to flee to before there was an Israel — was safely in the distant past.
Next post, Phil Weiss laments that Seth Rogen’s serious concerns about human rights and Zionism have turned into dispiriting Jewish shtik