Seth Rogen: ‘I Did Not Apologize’ to Jewish Agency Head Over My Comments on Israel

- Seth Rogen at the 33rd American Cinematheque Awards, Nov. 8, 2019, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP/Invision/Richard Shotwell)

By: Lauren Marcus

A week after making controversial comments on Israel, comedian Seth Rogen called out the Jewish Agency for allegedly misrepresenting a conversation between himself and the organization’s head, Isaac Herzog.

During a podcast interview hosted by another Jewish comedian, Marc Maron, Rogen said he was “fed a huge amount of lies about Israel” while growing up and that the concept of the State of Israel “makes no sense” to him.

His remarks sparked an immediate backlash from Jewish organizations and social media users, and last Sunday, Rogen spoke via Zoom with Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog about the comments.

“Had candid convo with Seth Rogen. He made clear his recent comment on Israel was said in jest & doesn’t reflect his clear belief in Israel’s right to exist,” tweeted Herzog on Sunday.

“I invited him to visit Israel’s vibrant democracy. Criticism is legit but delegitimization isn’t.”

Later that day, the Jewish Agency released a statement claiming that Herzog and Rogen had discussed “the current situation in Israel” and that Rogen “apologized” for his comments.

But in an interview on Monday with Haaretz, Rogen set the record straight, giving a version of events directly contradicting Herzog’s.

Rogen said he was surprised by the statement from the Jewish Agency.

“I did not apologize for what I said,” Rogen told Haaretz. “I offered clarity. And I think [Herzog] is misrepresenting our conversation.”

“At no point did I give him permission to publish any part of the conversation,” Rogen added.

Rogen explained that he had agreed to the call with Herzog to humor his mother.

Herzog, said Rogen, “sent a letter to my mom somehow, on official letterhead – very fancy letterhead. She 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.”

While Rogen has walked back his remarks on Israel, explaining that they were made in jest, he’s not willing to issue a full apology for them.

“I think both Marc [Maron] and I were highly aware of how sensitive some of the subjects he and I were working on there,” Rogen said to Haaretz.

“I actually listened back to it yesterday morning and, truly, I do [think] that the conversation we had is a very common conversation.” (World Israel News)

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