Superbad Judgement

Seth Rogen. (Stephen McCarthy/Collision via Sportsfile/ Wikimedia Commons)
Seth Rogen. (Stephen McCarthy/Collision via Sportsfile/ Wikimedia Commons)

Seth Rogen has made a career out of being the quintessential Jew. He drops the Jbomb regularly and has openly made undeniable Jewishness his schtick. Whether or not he attends synagogue, keeps kosher or prefers mustard over mayo, he is still unmistakably, culturally, physically and glaringly, a Jew. Sadly, in a world in which celebrities wield a tremendous amount of power and influence, he serves as a sort of ambassador or surrogate on behalf of the rest of us unfamous Jews. And this particular Semitic celebrity happens to have a social media following in excess of 22 million, a pretty powerful platform from which to pontificate. So when he went on Marc Maron’s wildly popular podcast to promote his latest film and parroted a series of anti-Israel propaganda points, it was not only another tragic example of a celebrity blindly subscribing to the zeitgeist’s current talking points without so much as a cursory glance at the actual facts, but also another boldfaced illustration of Jewish self-flagellation.

It is one thing to criticize the Israeli government and its policies as many Israelis do vocally and often (and by the way, are permitted to do by their government), but to essentially say that Israel hasn’t the right to exist is incredibly ignorant and highly irresponsible.  Judging from the response on social media, he has scored huge points with the usual suspects, including Code Pink and BDS who lauded him for his brave truth telling. Fellow flagellators, like Jewish Voices for Peace gleefully tweeted out the following quote “I also think 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 sitting there, oh the f*cking door’s open!”  In the tradition of Norman Finkelstein and even the wildly uniformed, Farrakhan-quoting Chelsea Handler who sought to earn her activist bona fides by throwing her own people under the bus, Rogen’s words are already being used to serve the purposes of Anti-Semites.  A Jew who hates Israel AND Israelis, what a coup!

Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon were born out of colonialism and mandates, but there’s no international outcry about those countries’ right to exist nor that of India and Pakistan, two nations that were created through British Colonialism. And for some reason, the fate of the Kashmir people whose plight is not so dissimilar to that of Palestinians has yet to become a rallying cry for the Social Justice Warriors of the world.  What’s the common denominator?  Jews!

Israel is the sole bastion of liberal values in the whole of the middle east. It is where people of all religions, including Arab Israelis who make up approximately 20% of Israel’s population and are represented in the Knesset, are allowed to exercise human liberties  — freedom of expression, women’s and LGTBQ rights — the same rights denied by just about every other country in the region. Despite being a singular oasis for these passionately held liberal values, progressives are solely laser focused on vilifying Israel — to the exclusion of countries riddled with human rights abuses, like Afghanistan, where 87% of women are illiterate and 70-80% face forced marriage, many before the age of 16 or Iran and Yemen, where homosexuality is punishable by death.  Where’s the outrage over that?  What’s the common denominator? Jews!

Rogen said “to me, it just seems like an antiquated thought process.  If it’s for religious reasons, I don’t agree with it because I think religion is silly. And 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 has proven to be pretty .. volatile, you know.  It doesn’t make sense to me.” He fails to have even a remedial understanding of history. Jews fleeing Europe in the 1930’s were turned away by many countries, including the United States.  Imagine the number of people a Jewish state might have saved, had it existed before, rather than after the Holocaust. And what would have happened to Jews fleeing or expelled from Arab countries in the middle east or from Ethiopia, Yemen or the former Soviet Union had it not been for Israel?  Or even the Jews currently fleeing rampant Anti-Semitism in Europe who are moving to Israel in record numbers?

Ironically, Maron and Rogen talked about how we are Jews in our DNA and as such, we are viewed as Jews no matter which passport we hold.  To that point, German Jews who had fought for their country during World War I were rounded up just like every other Jew — because in the eyes of their oppressors, they were Jews first and Jews only. Rogen said that his parents were “hung up on Israel” perhaps it’s because to them, it was more than a mere abstraction. His grandparents fled the pogroms and just two short generations later, Rogen doesn’t see the value in having a country that at least internally, is a welcome sanctuary from a world brimming with the persecution and hatred of Jews.

Anti-Semitism is often veiled as Anti-Zionism. It has been woven into the intersectional fabric of the current social justice manifesto. It is pervasive in academia and is overtly present within the media. There have been rampant attacks both physically – from Poway to Paris to Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Monsey and Munich as well as on social media – most recently from Ice Cube, DeSean Jackson and Nick Cannon, among others.  Anti-Semitism is becoming more common, as well increasingly culturally acceptable. So, to have Jews with a platform like Seth Rogan spew the same brand of ignorant propaganda espoused by unabashed Anti-Semites, is not only infuriating, but dangerous — particularly at this moment in time.

He has since made a very quiet mea culpa during a private Zoom conversation with President of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog, claiming that the Maron interview was entirely satirical, but quickly denied it publicly saying that his mom made him make the call, adding that the Jewish Agency head did not represent the conversation accurately and violated a promise of privacy — a claim that Herzog refutes. So, once again Rogen plays the stereotypically semitic role of the dutiful menschy son while placating his Anti-Israel applauders.

Seth Rogen is not only the quintessential Jew, but he also revealed himself to be the quintessential uniformed, oblivious celebrity Jew, which is a potent combination and chum for Anti-Semites everywhere. Along with an audience comes a great deal of responsibility,  particularly when it comes to matters of such gravity and complexity. So, stick to things you know.  If you want to muse about the virtues of Indica vs. Sativa, we’re all ears — but please do your homework before wading into such consequential waters.

About the Author
Lisa Feldsher is a co-founding partner at Mind Over Media and has worked with many of today’s top brands, A-list celebrities, activists and authors. She has used her media expertise to give voice to causes such as animal rights, LGBTQ rights, women's rights and intercultural co-existence and has written for publications such as Huffington Post and Kveller.
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