Actor Seth Rogen on Monday denied apologizing for his comments about Israel, claiming Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog misrepresented his position.
In an interview with Haaretz, Rogen also acknowledged that he should not have spoken jokingly on such a “sensitive and nuanced” issue.
Rogen came under fire last week after he appeared on an episode of Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, during which Rogen said he had been “fed a huge amount of lies about Israel” his entire life, and seemed to question the very reasoning for the state’s existence.
“To me it just seems an antiquated thought process. 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.’ It doesn’t make sense to me.”
On Sunday, Herzog toldChannel 12 News that he had spoken with Rogen over the weekend via Zoom and that the actor and filmmaker walked back his comments.
In the Haaretz interview, however, Rogen denied that he apologized, adding that the Jewish Agency head did not represent the conversation accurately and violated a promise of privacy.
“I did not apologize for what I said. I offered clarity. And I think [Herzog] is misrepresenting our conversation,” he said.
Herzog, continued Rogen, “sent a letter to my mother somehow, on official letterhead – very fancy letterhead. My mom implored me to call this guy and I did and told him I thought this was a private conversation and I hoped it was a private conversation. After all, I did it because he reached out to my mother asking to talk to me. At no point did I give him permission to publish any part of the conversation.”
Sources close to Herzog insisted that his summary of the conversation was accurate, and that Rogen did indeed express an apology to Herzog.
They added that there was no privacy violation and that Herzog asked Rogen what he could say about their conversation, and Rogen replied, “Everything.”
Rogen told Haaretz, “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.”
“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.
“Truthfully, I think my pride in being Jewish and how deeply I identify as a Jewish person perhaps made me feel like I was able to say things without as much context as perhaps I should give them – you know what I’m saying? 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,” continued Rogen.