Israel ‘doesn’t make sense,’ can’t safeguard Jewish people, says Seth Rogen

Israel ‘doesn’t make sense,’ can’t safeguard Jewish people, says Seth Rogen

Actor-comedian opens up about identity in podcast interview with Marc Maron; says if country exists ‘for religious reasons, I don’t agree with it because I think religion is silly’

Seth Rogen at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, February 29, 2020. (Roy Rochlin/ Getty Images via JTA)
Seth Rogen at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, February 29, 2020. (Roy Rochlin/ Getty Images via JTA)

JTA — Marc Maron warned listeners at the beginning of the latest episode of his “WTF” podcast on Monday: “If you don’t like Jews, you’re gonna get triggered.”

It was a fair disclaimer, given that his hour-long conversation with Seth Rogen touched on just about every general aspect of modern Jewish identity, from Jewish summer camp to cultural Jewishness to sitting shiva.

But a second warning came part of the way through the episode, as the conversation turned to Israel. “We’re gonna piss off a bunch of Jews,” Maron said.

Rogen, who grew up attending Jewish schools and Jewish camp in Vancouver, said he was “fed a huge amount of lies about Israel” and questioned why the state should exist. Maron, who often references his Jewishness in his standup comedy material, concurred.

“To me it just seems an antiquated thought process,” Rogen said. “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.'”

Marc Maron arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” he continued. “And 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 like sitting there, like the fucking door’s open!…They forget to include the fact to every young Jewish person.”

“I get frightened to talk about it,” responded Maron.

The entire conversation was what Maron called “the most Jewy talk” he has had on his popular podcast, which has aired over 1,100 episodes. Rogen was on the show to discuss his upcoming film “An American Pickle,” about a Jewish immigrant who falls into a vat of pickles in New York in 1919 and wakes up 100 years later.

Rogen also revealed “I would have been totally happy marrying a non-Jewish person, it’s only coincidental that [his wife Lauren Miller is] Jewish, and it really bothers her when I say that. She wants her Judaism to have some value to me, even though it doesn’t, in any way, shape or form.”

But talking about Jewish culture, Rogen conceded, “As I get older, I appreciate that religion, you know, specifically revolving around death, like Judaism has a lot of protocol that is helpful.”

“It puts you to work, and it forces you to do stuff, and it forces you to confront it, and it forces you to be around people and talk to people,” he said referring to the traditional week-long mourning period known as a shiva.

“It was one of those things where I was like, ‘Oh this is like a very useful tool that religion has created around a very painful thing and a lot of thought was put into this,'” he continued. “As silly as Noah’s Ark is, this is not silly, this is actually like a very well thought out, practical protocol to do after someone dies, whether you believe in it or not.”

Ideas of anti-Semitism were drilled in to him by his father, he said.

“I remember my dad frankly telling me ‘People hate Jews. Just be aware of that. They just do.'” he recalled.” And it’s honestly something that I am so glad was instilled in me from a young age, because if it wasn’t, I would constantly be shocked at how much motherf***ers hate Jews, because they do!”

“It is pervasive and it is prevalent and it is to many Jewish people so confounding that they don’t assume it’s true…I’ve tried to put a lot of thought into why it’s happened … People obviously hate people who do not look like them. … I think people also have a weird fear of people who look like them but do not believe the same thing they do fundamentally.”

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