'People are comfortable saying Israel doesn't have a right to exist because they're not afraid of getting the s*** beaten out of them'

After his heart was broken in Be’eri and Hostage Square, actor Michael Rapaport settles scores with antisemites and bleeding-heart American left; he shares what he learned during his visit to Israel, explaining how despite his image, he's not really hot-headed

Gabi Bar Haim|
Last month, U.S. actor Michael Rapaport posted a video to X from his trip to Israel, standing in front of a sex shop and a bar with a rainbow-colored sign in Tel Aviv’s iconic Allenby St.
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“If you’re into sex stores or anything LGBTQ, do not go to Gaza. This doesn’t exist in Gaza, this doesn’t exist in the West Bank… You go to f***ing Gaza, and start talking that sh*t, you say ‘where’s the LGBTQ bar?’ They toss you off a f***ing building, they burn you they toss you off a f***ing building,” he says in the profanity-laden clip.
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מייקל רפפורט
מייקל רפפורט
Michael Rapaport
(Photo: GettyImages)
“Israel’s awesome, Jewish people are awesome, Hamas sucks big elephant d**k all day, every day. But LGBTQ elephant d**k because there are no LGBTQ elephants in Gaza. Even the elephants are oppressed in Gaza.”
Speaking to Ynet, he voiced similar statements, albeit more solemnly and with a lot more anger.
You see on Twitter all these... man, I don't know. They are bearded and with dresses and say they want to go to Gaza. They won't even shoot them, right? They throw them off a building. They don't waste their time shooting. They throw them right off the building like some sort of bug," he vents.
Listen, I too find it funny when a bearded man in a dress says he wants to go to Gaza to support the oppressed. But the issue is broader; it's what many Gen Zers are posting on social media. "It's like they keep sort of looking at all these different historical events and try to rationalize them. What happened on the 7th, there's no rationalizing or excuse or any of it; there's no nothing, that's inexcusable behavior. When they were running through the streets, they did not say 'Palestine,' they didn't say 'colonizer,' they didn't say 'land,' they didn't say '1948, 1973,' they didn't say any of that, they said, 'Kill, Allahu Akbar, kill.' They were happy. They were celebrating. They were proud. They were kicking dead bodies. People were cheering them on. There was no regret. There was no sadness there, no shock. There was just an intention to obliterate everything they could, to obliterate not just people, but memories, burning people's houses to the ground."
So you're saying there's no way to justify what happened. But what's astonishing is that this comes from the left side of American politics. "I have a friend who's a well-known person, and they went into a restaurant in New Orleans, sat around and the person said 'I don't want to serve you,' and she said 'why, because I'm Jewish?' They said 'no, because you're Zionist.' Those people in those restaurants that won't serve people - those are not Republicans, they're Democrats. In the last 20-30 years, there have just been so many different sorts of things - 9/11, Black Lives Matter and all these pronounces and sh*t. People with beards and dresses. It's too many choices, there's no parameters on anything and I think that's what we're seeing where people could go 'Well, f*** Israel. f*** the Jews. I'm not going to serve you.' You're not going to serve me? What the f*** are you talking about?"
Speaking of Black Lives Matter, I wanted to ask your opinion on this community's disregard for the events of October 7 and the current wave of antisemitism in the United States. "You know, Jewish people in America have always been activists and have always been on the side of black people. Financially, historically, with our voices, with our marching, with our screaming, with our platforms. Just a few years ago with Black Lives Matter. I'm just saying, as Jews, we were right there, saying 'This is f***** up. Police brutality is f***** up,' and you're not getting the same support or even interest in giving support or interest in understanding the situation. It's silence. I don't like to say everybody, but the majority of what I see, what I've experienced personally, is disappointing and surprising.
Was your well-publicized online beef with Kanye West part of this? He wrote that he finds positive aspects in Hitler and hasn't stopped since. "There's no beef. He's f***ing stupid. He needs mental help."
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קניה ווסט
קניה ווסט
Kanye West
(Photo: EPA)
OK. "I'm not an activist. I have no agenda. If I have an agenda now, it's to make sure that people don't forget what happened and that we're not going to go on business as usual until those hostages are back or accounted for, and that [Hamas] are eradicated. They need to go. Period. They have to go. Period. The same way Osama bin Laden. I'm just trying to not be a passive East Coast Jewish man.

The vulnerability of life

Michael Rapaport is anything but passive. He's a movie star (True Romance, Higher Learning), TV star (Only Murders in the Building), comedian, internet personality, and recently appeared as a pickle in the latest season of The Masked Singer. His resume is as eclectic as his personality.
For the interview, he arrived sporting a big mouth, a black hat and three Star of David necklaces, a gift from a woman who recognized him in the Old City market in Jerusalem.
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מייקל רפפורט נואם
מייקל רפפורט נואם
Michael Rapaport at Hostage Square, Tel Aviv
(Photo: GettyImages)
This is his first visit to Israel, part of an air bridge of celebrities including Jerry Seinfeld and Debra Messing, who came to show solidarity during a time when Israel’s not exactly a tourist magnet.
Brought by the Maccabee Task Force, which focuses on pro-Israel advocacy worldwide, they've had Rapaport, Messing, Scooter Braun and others since the war's outset to effectively communicate the Israeli reality.
He didn't miss out on a local hummus trial or a taste of local trash culture, meeting with children’s star Manny Mamterra. But Rapaport insists he's not here on vacation.
On the morning of October 7, the comedian was playing shows in Atlanta. He said that he woke up in his hotel room and saw that his phone was blowing up with messages.
"I woke up and at first, I didn't understand, I don't think anybody did, the severity of it. It's crazy. I was scrolling through WhatsApp and my Twitter and all that stuff, just getting the information and seeing it like everybody else was. You know, the violence was like something you see in a zombie movie. They were like f***ing zombies, those people. Like you'd see in The Walking Dead," he says.
During his visit, the actor stopped at Kibbutz Be'eri and Kfar Aza, two border communities that were ravaged by Hamas terrorists on October 7. He described the sights there as "breathtaking." He met with survivors of the Nova Music Festival massacre, as well as hostages who were released from captivity in Gaza. Not your typical first time in Israel.
"You know, people talk about their first trip to Israel. My wife and I, our first trip to Israel is probably like unlike anybody else's first trip to Israel because of the circumstances. But I'm so glad that I'm here. I'm so glad that. I've had the opportunities to go where I've gotten to go and to see what happened and talk to a lot of people and meet a lot of regular people and officials," he says.
"It's very interesting and it's very emotional and puts things in perspective. You know how vulnerable people are and how vulnerable the country that you live in can be, and how things can change so quickly and the reality of life, the vulnerability of life. That being said, I know the infamous spirit of the Israeli people, it still comes through, that's been a part of it too."
Rapaport's first stop after landing in Israel was Tel Aviv's Hostage Square. Despite being jet lagged, the comedian arrived at the place at 5:30 in the morning.
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מייקל רפפורט בהפגנת מחאה
מייקל רפפורט בהפגנת מחאה
Michael Rapaport at the writers' strike
(Photo: AP)
"It was just sad. And disturbing. And frustrating. And f***ing scary. But mostly sad," he recalls his first encounter with the post-October 7 Israeli reality. Summarizing the impact on the Israeli spirit, he says, "I met this woman on the street when I was at Hosta Square during the day and she looked at me and she recognized me. I could see she was very upset and I said, 'how are you?' And she started crying and she said 'not good. I'm not good.' She's 69. Her family moved here from Brazil when she was 9. She told me all that and asked 'what did they do to my country?'"
And what was your first impression there? "It's just sad. It's upsetting. It's frustrating, it's scary and it's just sad. It's sad and you know the only thing I could compare it to was 9/11 in New York when there were all these makeshift memorial sites all around the city for people that were missing, people that were declared dead, for firemen, for policemen, for everyday people, and they were all over the city and nobody ever tore them down."
Like they're doing in New York City to hostage posters. "I also have a big problem with the disrespect of the taking down the posters. At the end of the day, it doesn't bring them back or keep them there, but it's still distressed. It's so disrespectful," he says.
“I don't have a problem if you don't agree with the government, I don't have a problem if you're against Israel. I don't have a problem if you're anything but when you start saying 'f*** the Jews,' that's when I have a problem. When you start saying you want to obliterate Israel and Israel doesn't have a right to exist, that's when I have a problem. Just like I would also have a problem if you said Nigeria doesn't have a right to exist or any other place doesn't have a right to exist, I'd have a problem with it. I think that people are comfortable saying that stuff around Jewish people because they're not afraid of getting the s*** beaten out of them."
Highly aware of the aggressive persona he has adopted on social media, despite his vehement denials ("I don't want any trouble"), it's hard to say it doesn't reflect reality. His past includes several incidents that suggest otherwise, the most recent being on a flight where he physically restrained another passenger thinking he was trying to open the plane's door.
"That's really what happened there," he insists to this day, even though the investigation proved the passenger had mistaken the plane door for the lavatory. "My persona maybe looks like that. That's just a persona, you know? I’m not like that. I'm not violent and I don't like confrontations and s*** like that. That’s just not my thing.”

Lesson in Judaism

Rapaport, 53, born and raised in New York, just like his parents, traces his family roots to Eastern Europe. However, the sense of Jewish persecution was left behind on their journey to the United States.
"Probably the biggest thing that my father used to emphasize was he didn’t want me to grow up to be passive neurotic Jewish man, you know, the stereotypical way. So that's probably his biggest and only real lesson that he implied in regards to Judaism and that always stuck to me,” he says.
Even in his acting career, which began at 19, he was known for roles portraying tough, working-class men, from cops to government agents. One of his roles was as Phoebe Buffay's police officer boyfriend in the sitcom Friends.
Rapaport, like many others, was completely taken by surprise to hear about Matthew Perry’s recent passing. He says he did not notice signs of Perry’s personal struggles with addiction during their shared time on set.
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מת'יו פרי
מת'יו פרי
Matthew Perry
(Photo: Reuters)
“Everything was cool. I would see him out a lot in clubs or bars and stuff like that. But it's difficult to know when you're younger what’s OK behavior and what’s a slippery slope,” he says.
“What Matthew Perry specifically did, he made it look very easy, something that is not very easy, that kind of high-level sitcom acting is a skill set that that entire cast had. They made you believe that they were these friends. It's sad for somebody who you know to die so young in that way.”
Rapaport also made a guest appearance on Israel’s popular sketch comedy show Eretz Nehederet, participating in a skit that mocked the presidencies of Harvard, Penn and MIT universities after they refused to condemn calls for genocide of Jewish people.
He says that the production contacted him two days before his trip to Israel and asked him to join them.
"They sent me the script and I had so much going on, packing and all so I didn't even read it. And then read it on the plane. When I got there, we shot very quickly. They were very professional. I think it was a very, very, very, very good skit. The cast was great, the producers were great," he says.
A lot of their sketches are translated into English right now. Does it have an impact? "They should be. And yeah, I think it does. I think it's important. I think they're doing what Saturday Night Live is not doing. I think Saturday Night Live is scared. I think Saturday Night Live is just scared of being controversial. Scared of taking a side. They got lazy and fat and I think the show is too woke. I think that they're really full of s*** because, particularly around the MIT-Harvard context, that's what our sketch was about. That show needs to be taken off the air. It's it's a dead horse. It needs to be put down. Shut it down. It has no balls, that show's been neutered. It's an old man that can't get it up anymore."
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