Why are major news organizations uncritically giving a platform to a celebrity who implied that Jews were attempting to bury the widespread perception of them as usurpers of other people’s land?
In a recent episode of the popular WTF podcast with Marc Maron, Hollywood star Seth Rogen was asked whether he agreed that Israel should exist. His response: “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.”
In the widely-shared interview, Rogen added that he believes Israel “makes no sense” and is non-essential to the “preservation of Jewish people” before going on to claim that he had been lied to about the Jews’ historical connection to Israel:
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.
Apparently, the accomplished actor, comedian, writer, producer, and director thinks the State of Israel is unnecessary, perhaps even detrimental, for Jews.
Rogen is entitled to express his opinion, but it is one devoid of objectivity and context. And as such, media organizations including Newsweek, The Guardian and many others have failed to fulfill their journalistic obligations to fill in the gaps for their readers.
Good journalism isn’t about merely reporting one point of view. Good journalism involves going to multiple sources and getting the full story. And here, by presenting Rogen’s thoughts alone without any criticism, the media has provided anti-Israel activists and organizations with further ammunition to cast doubt on Israel’s legitimacy.
‘I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel’
Take for example how France’s FR24 opens its coverage of the Rogen story:
Seth Rogen said he had been “fed a tremendous amount of lies about Israel” as a young Jew, fueling controversy around the country’s sometimes strained relations with many North American Jews…
At no point does FR24 make any mention of the Jewish people’s historical connection and legal rights to Israel. Rather, the outlet seemingly uses his words to accentuate, if not deepen, a growing divide between Israel and the US, in particular.
Meanwhile, the Evening Standard uncritically includes this passage
He said: “You don’t keep all your Jews in one basket. I don’t understand why they did that [moved to Israel]. It makes no sense whatever… It would be nice to live somewhere that is not part of the Christian apocalyptic prophecy.”
The Evening Standard neglects to mention a primary catalyst for Jews returning to their ancestral homeland: rampant, murderous antisemitism. Without making space for the historical context, the Evening Standard allows Rogen’s faulty reasoning a platform, that any Jewish connection to Israel is based on ‘Christian apocalyptic prophecy.
No Jewish connection to Israel
Whether you agree with him or not, in today’s media, the opinions of a public figure such as a Hollywood star are considered newsworthy. But republishing Rogen’s words verbatim without including the most basic background serves to muddy the waters regarding the indisputable Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.
Fox News and The New York Daily News are two more top-tier news organizations that failed to mention the indigenous rights of the Jewish people, an omission that ignores many centuries of documented history.
For example, the 1922 San Remo Declaration that was unanimously adopted by the League of Nations reaffirmed what had already been enshrined in the Balfour Declaration five years earlier: namely, that a national home for the Jewish people be established in all of what was then Mandatory Palestine, including in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, areas together referred to today as the West Bank.
This principle is still endorsed by Article 80 of the UN Charter. In other words, Jews didn’t invade and occupy another people’s land. They were granted legally binding rights to the biblical Land of Israel.
Yet those who listened to Rogen’s interview or followed the ensuing news coverage are liable to believe that Jews simply organized one morning and decided to move to some random desert region. In reality, however:
- Judea and Samaria are replete with archaeological evidence that points to a Jewish presence dating back 3,000 years.
- Eastern Jerusalem, which was captured from Jordan along with other parts of the contested West Bank in 1967, used to be the capital of Israel. The Bible relates that King David purchased land in the area now called Silwan. Archaeologists have discovered what they believe to have been King David’s palace there.
- Archaeologists have also found numerous coins featuring Hebrew names and symbols at the site – the holiest in Judaism — of the First Temple built by King Solomon, and the Second Temple built during the generation of Ezra and later refurbished by Herod the Great.
Seth Rogen may not be aware that last week many Jews observed Tisha B’Av, the Jewish commemoration of the destruction of the First and Second Temples in 586 BCE and 70 CE, respectively. The Jewish connection to Jerusalem and broader Israel is ancient. Indeed, it predates both Islam and Christianity.
Indigenous Rights Vs. National Rights
Under international law, indigenous rights are not synonymous with national rights. Otherwise, Native Americans in the United States, the Basques of Spain, the Aborigine of Vancouver (ironically, where Rogen was raised) along with many other groups would be entitled to sovereignty. There are currently 124 territorial disputes around the world, but few major media outlets describe the Basque Country as occupied or, for that matter, acknowledge that the Western Sahara as occupied by Morocco.
Even China gets a relatively free pass regarding Tibet, not to mention its enslavement in veritable concentration camps of an estimated million-plus Uighur Muslims.
For someone who attended Jewish day school and summer camp, Seth Rogen displays a surprising lack of knowledge of his heritage. Especially the 2,000 years the Jewish people spent in exile, longing to return home amid endless persecution, pogroms and genocide.
And without the establishment of the modern state of Israel, some 850,000 Jews in predominantly Arab lands would likely have faced a similar fate. This is why, among many other reasons, Israel ‘makes sense.’
By not balancing the views of an influential celebrity by including context, news organizations with massive readerships are helping to facilitate the spread of an anti-Israel narrative.
Source material can be found at this site.