News and Commentary

HAWORTH: Three Failures In Seth Rogen’s Criticism Of Israel
Seth Rogen arrives at Premiere Of Warner Bros Pictures' 'Motherless Brooklyn' on October 28, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)
Jerod Harris/Getty Images

Earlier this month, the hashtag “#JewishPrivilege” trended on Twitter, spreading a “mixture of classic conspiratorial theories involving Jewish domination and control of the media, Holocaust denial and accusations of underwriting social unrest movements so that Jews could displace whites with minority groups.”

Leveraging our deep experience of combining suffering with sarcasm, Jews on Twitter quickly rallied to flip the use of #JewishPrivilege to share stories of both modern and generational anti-Semitism.

Using the concept of “Jewish privilege” to justify the circular argument that so-called “Jewish success” is ensured by “Jewish influence” is nothing new. For centuries, Jews have been labeled as malevolent puppet masters, with their disproportionate success in various societies seen as further proof of the breadth and depth of their “control.” This remains true to this very day, with the same conspiratorial anti-Semitic rhetoric spread by actors, musicians, and even members of Congress.

While the anti-Semitism demonstrated by “Jewish privilege” is the same sort of shallow bigotry which we have witnessed for centuries, anti-Semitism is a “mutating virus.” There is a new tentacle of anti-Jewish bigotry which continues to go widely unrecognized, anti-Zionism. Criticism of Israel has become a veil used by anti-Semites to dismiss any and all rebuttals, with “Israel” becoming a convenient synonym for “Jews.”

The difficulty here is that, while many Jews are quick to speak out against traditional anti-Semitism, the same is not true when it comes the intersection between anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric. Indeed, fueled by an experience of relative tolerance in liberal, insular, and secular bubbles, influential Jewish voices often give credence to the flawed arguments used by those who use their criticism of Israel as a mask for their hatred of Jews.

Speaking on Marc Macron’s podcast this week, Seth Rogen demonstrated a stunning ignorance of Judaism’s past and present when it comes to its identity and its immutable links with Israel, and thereby provided ammunition to those who seek its destruction.

“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,” said Rogen. “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. 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 f***ing door’s open. They forget to include the fact to every young Jewish person.”

There are three fundamental failures underpinning Rogen’s arguments. The first is the dismissal of the undeniable Jewish connection to Israel (which has existed for thousands of years) under the banner of an atheistic secularism which disregards the religious foundation of Judaism.

Whether individual Jews embrace the religious or the cultural aspects of their heritage is entirely up to them, but to deny the importance of Israel as the one and only everlasting home of Judaism based on one’s personal lack of religiosity is profoundly selfish and theologically inane.

The second is the use of historical revisionism which ignores that there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Israel for thousands of years. To claim that the sole purpose of Israel is “the preservation of Jewish people,” and that prior to Israel’s founding there were (other) people there, assumes the false premise that Israel was apologetically handed to Jews for the first time in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Jewish men wearing traditional Tallit prayer shawls and clad in face masks following tightened restriction aimed at fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus, gather for the morning prayer at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, on July 27, 2020. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)

Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

Such a simplistic description of Israel’s ancient and modern history only fuels the intentional attempt by those who target Jews under the “anti-Israel” guise to mislabel Israel as the result of 20th century Jewish colonialism. Contrary to this historically illiterate belief, the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 was simply a recognition of reality.

Finally, the notion that dispersing Jews across the world is the answer to the everlasting threat of anti-Semitism forgets that our history of non-consensual dispersion has not exactly gone well. In addition, Rogen’s absurd blender analogy regarding the volatility of the Middle East, and that we should disperse that which we wish to protect, makes the argument that Jews should not claim what is theirs because there are those who wish to prevent them from doing so. The presence of continual mortal danger is insignificant when it comes to exercising the Jewish right to self-determination in our ancestral homeland, regardless of what the neighbors think.

Seth Rogen is utterly and completely wrong, and his arguments will be music to the ears of those who seek to destroy the Jewish State. Israel does not exist for the preservation of Jewish people. Instead, Israel exists for the preservation of Judaism, and Judaism exists for the preservation of Israel. Israel is Judaism, and Judaism is Israel, and no amount of ignorance or lazy historical revisionism will change the enduring fact that Israel is, and always will be, the enduring home of the Jewish people and of Judaism itself.  For Jews and Judaism to persist, Israel must survive.

Ian G. Haworth is a conservative commentator who provides an honest, principled, and hard-hitting insight into our politics and culture from his unique perspective as a British immigrant to the United States. Ian hosts “The Ian Haworth Show” and “The Truth in 60 Seconds.” He is a regular columnist for, and his work has appeared in other outlets including The American Mind, The Washington Examiner, and The Federalist. Ian graduated from Oxford University, and now lives in California. Follow him on Twitter @ighaworth

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