said his comments about Israel being a bad idea for a state were made in jest but affirmed that he found his childhood education about the country, which he received through Jewish schools and camps, to be problematic.
The Hollyood star was responding to an earlier announcement released by Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog
, about a Zoom conversation he held with Rogen.
“I don’t want Jews to think I don’t want Israel to exist and I understand how they could have been led to think that,” the actor and comedian told Haaretz reporter Allison Kaplan Sommer in a story published Monday.
“I was just not given a full picture of the situation and I understand it’s a wildly complex picture to give a child,” he said, adding that he knows Jewish parents who “are taking it on themselves to try to paint a more complete picture of how complex a situation it is.”
The new interview and ongoing conversation come nearly a week after Rogen discussed Israel on Marc Maron’s popular “WTF” podcast, and the pair’s comments sparked an outcry among many Israel supporters. Rogen said he was “fed a huge amount of lies about Israel” as a child in Vancouver and that Israel’s organizing principle – grouping Jews together in one state – “doesn’t make sense.”
He clarified to Kaplan Sommer that the principle was “a joke I’ve heard Israelis make.” He also said that comedy inherently carries the risk of being perceived as offensive.
“If you take any comedic monologue and treat it as though it is not based in humor, there’s probably some very questionable thoughts in there,” Rogen said.
The interview came a day after Herzog released a statement saying he had talked with Rogen about “the current situation in Israel,” and that Rogen had “apologized” for his comments. (The Jewish Agency is a nonprofit that works to bolster Israel-Diaspora relations.) Rogen told Haaretz that he did not tell Herzog that he could make details of their talk public.
“I did not apologize for what I said. I offered clarity. And I think [Herzog] is misrepresenting our conversation,” Rogen told Haaretz. “At no point did I give him permission to publish any part of the conversation.”
Herzog “sent a letter to my mother on very fancy letterhead. My mom implored me to call this guy and I did and told him I thought this was a private conversation... at no point did I give him permission to publish any part of the conversation.”
“One can definitely argue about policies and positions, as I did in my political career, but for me, the redline is the imposition of doubt on the right of existence of the Jewish State and the encouragement of its delegitimization,” Herzog said he told Rogen.