Opinion

Seth Rogen Is Funny, but the Jewish Agency's Isaac Herzog Is Ridiculous

Carolina Landsmann
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Seth Rogen portraying Ben Greenbaum, left, and Herschel Greenbaum in a scene from 'An American Pickle.'
Seth Rogen portraying Ben Greenbaum, left, and Herschel Greenbaum in a scene from 'An American Pickle.'Credit: Hopper Stone,AP
Carolina Landsmann

It’s said that laughter has healing powers. If that’s true, then Isaac Herzog deserves a medical degree.

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On social media last week, the Jewish Agency chairman posted a video informing the Jewish people that he had extracted a confession and apology from actor and comedian Seth Rogen. Anyone watching that is reminded of Roberto Benigni in “Life is Beautiful.”

Herzog is also trying to hide from us the situation around the world and in Israel using games of imagination and hysterical laughter in the Jewish ghetto. Otherwise, there’s no explanation for the head of the Jewish Agency to tell the camera: He told me, listen, I didn’t mean at all to deny Israel’s right to exist. An alternative explanation is that Herzog has lost it.

It’s hard to explain how ridiculous this story is. Let’s start with the names of the movies that made Rogen famous: “Knocked Up” and “Superbad.” Then there’s the context in which the things were said: a podcast of the Jewish American comedian Marc Maron to promote Rogen’s new movie in which he plays a Jewish immigrant who falls into a vat of pickles, where he’s preserved for 100 years. But maybe it’s actually the very hackneyed things that Rogen said.

Still, I’m not Herzog and I don’t have a clue what it means to be the head of the Jewish Agency. Maybe the hottest spot in hell is reserved for people like me, who remain neutral while Rogen knocks up the Jewish people.

But not Herzog. He won’t hold back when Jews are making jokes on a podcast about the danger of concentrating Jews in one place. By the way, I heard Ronen Shoval, the founder of the right-wing group Im Tirtzu, warn of the same thing.

Herzog has read Martin Niemöller. He knows that if he speaks out only when the Nazis come to take him, no one will be left to vote for him when he runs for president.

But the farce doesn’t end there. Herzog “sent a letter to my mother somehow, on official letterhead – very fancy letterhead,” Rogen told Haaretz last week. “My mom implored me to call this guy and I did.”

Rogen denied that he had apologized, adding that the Jewish Agency chief didn’t represent the conversation accurately.

So we have the Jewish Agency logo on a letter to the mother of a comedian to set straight her Jewish son – who deserted the Jewish army at the height of the war against antisemitism. If that’s not proof of the Jewish people’s inherent inability for sovereignty, I don’t know what is.

Still, the Israelis fought bravely against the armies that threatened its borders. Even against the Nazis they chalked up a few achievements: They kidnapped Adolf Eichmann and hanged him. If Herzog wants to play the part of Simon Wiesenthal, why not? Let him hunt down Nazis. But Rogen? That’s who he snagged when he went fishing?

And to think that all this is happening at a time when the Israeli government is headed by a historic con man who helps stoke antisemitism around the world while behaving n a way that echoes Jewish stereotypes as formulated by the greatest of our enemies through the generations – see his iconic speech in Congress against Barack Obama and the Iranian nuclear deal. Add to this the fact that an Israeli prime minister helps make the world hostile to minorities and foreigners (see his alliances with nationalist and anti-liberal regimes).

They’ll devote large chapters in the history books to all this, so one can’t help feeling uncomfortable when thinking about the state of awareness of the Jewish people in his country.

Is it possible that Benjamin Netanyahu has brainwashed all the Israelis and convinced them that the Zionist enterprise is a project to preserve the Jewish people? Maybe it would be worthwhile if Rogen wrote a letter to Herzog’s children. Because maybe only the young people will save us from the irresponsible infantility of their parents.

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