In their rambling mission to define the ubiquitous modern American-Jewish identity, comedians Seth Rogen and Marc Maron decided on a recent episode of the latter’s podcast, WTF, that “Jewish people especially who view themselves as progressive” should not care about supporting Israel or its survival.
Israel sadly has become an inconvenient part of Rogen’s and Maron’s Jewish identities. The pair of comedians unleashed an error-ridden segment on Judaism, trashing American-Jewish education, making ignorant and intolerant comments about worshippers of other faiths and joining in the all-too-fashionable Israel-bashing that one has come to expect from anti-Semitic, but not Jewishly educated, public figures.
Rogen claims that he was fed “a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life,” and declares that “every young Jewish person” is never informed that there “were people living there.”
Rogen clearly ignores that the Hebrews, the Israelites, the Jews lived in their ancient lands until they were expelled. The destruction of the Temples occurred ages ago. But comedians, more taken with themselves than with their heritage, find it easy to make fun of everyone, and even easier to say things that are designed to attract attention for their own purposes.
Rogen is starring in a Jewish film. Perhaps this was his bit at controversy to drum up interest in his art form. Shame on him.
No one denies that when the United Nations adopted the Partition Resolution in 1947—setting the stage for the establishment of a Jewish state and an Arab state, with special status for Jerusalem—people of various religions, beliefs and history lived in what were Ottoman Empire lands that then came under the British Mandate.
So, who are Rogen and Maron kidding, except themselves?
I do not know what education they received growing up, perhaps a lousy one, as we see them again blaming their mothers when they should be thanking them.
I was raised to be proud of being Jewish, proud of our heritage, proud of our ability to overcome the repeated persecutions and, yes, proud of our state and eternal homeland—the Jewish State of Israel; the land that our ancestors fought and died for generation after generation, and in exile from which we have perished by the millions.
Today, Israel’s enemies have made a point of targeting its image in Western academia, media and progressive circles, achieving some success in making it uncomfortable for young American Jews to support the Jewish state—too uncomfortable for Rogen and Maron, apparently, who should have been leaders in speaking up, not validating the hate by capitulating to it.
In explaining why he is opposed to all Jews living in one place, Rogen is arguing against something nobody is asserting. Current numbers approximate that about half of all Jewish people live outside of Israel. Those of us in the Diaspora should be thanking—not bashing—the half that lives in the Jewish homeland, enduring the volatility, and thanking the State of Israel that works to protect the rights of all Jewish people around the world, including in the United States, not only those who live in Israel.
And, notwithstanding the hateful rhetoric spewed towards Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East, it also works to protect the rights, health and well-being of all peoples in the region and elsewhere.
In the aftermath of the Holocaust—when 6 million Jews and millions of other people were murdered, gassed, burned, worked and walked to death—fortunately, the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 provided a safe haven for the Jewish refugees from Europe.
Rogen now wishes that never happened, but where exactly does he think the survivors should have gone?
An unconscionable volume of Jewish property was confiscated just a couple generations prior, most of which never has and never will be returned to its rightful heirs, many of whom remain destitute today.
For a moment, the pair of Jewish joke-makers acknowledge that pretty much every Jewish person’s grandparent came to this country fleeing murder somewhere, but later in the podcast they seem to forget this fact, as they treat the teaching of Jewish history with the pogroms and the Holocaust as some sort of nefarious indoctrination that they are now ashamed to have taken seriously in the past.
Shame on these clowns for diminishing the Jewish history of suffering and calling it a propaganda tool. They are now the new face of the school of Jewish self-haters who validate the intolerant beliefs of Holocaust-deniers everywhere.
In their case against Israel, they bring up “the Christian apocalyptic prophesy,” arguing that we should “maybe live somewhere that the Christians don’t think we all have to die.”
When people interpret Jewish religious texts to paint Jews as terrible people, we call that anti-Semitism.
In this case, Rogen is instilling false religious beliefs into the minds of hundreds of millions of good American people. Of the many thousands of Christians whom I have met in my lifetime, exactly zero have ever suggested that I move to Israel, or even politely asked if I ever planned to do so. This includes Evangelical pastors whom I know personally and are aware of my love and appreciation for the very existence of the modern State of Israel.
Did it ever dawn on Rogen and Maron that maybe Christians who support a Jewish Israel do so because it is our destiny that is described in our own ancient religious texts, to which they also ascribe? Or that Israel is the safest place in the Middle East for Christian people and all religious minorities to practice their faith? Is it not possible that some Christians are simply proud Americans, and see in Israel a country with shared values that in countless ways aims to make a positive difference in the world?
Rogen has denigrated not only the Jewish people, but himself. His ignorance is clear: His lack of appreciation for the rich history and contributions of the Jewish people is profound, and his use of his pulpit to promote hatred toward Jews and Israel is disgusting.
Rogen’s publicity stunt has backfired. Against his movie career, we should all make clear that he does not speak for the proud American-Jewish population and say #ShameOnSethRogen.
Joseph H. Tipograph is a lawyer with the Washington D.C.-based firm Heideman Nudelman & Kalik PC, where he represents victims of terror and their families in lawsuits against state and other sponsors of terrorism. He is also a founding director of HaShevet, a new watchdog group focused on reinvigorating support for Zionism, Israel and Jewish pride in the United States.