Actor John Cusack poses during a photocall to promote the movie 'Chi-Raq' at the 66th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany February 16, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE)
Actor John Cusack was widely criticized on Monday after tweeting an antisemitic image.
The actor - best known for Say Anything..., Being John Malkovich and High Fidelity - at first defended his retweet of the meme, before later backtracking, deleting it and apologizing.
Late on Monday Cusack tweeted the image, which features a hand emblazoned with a Star of David crushing a group of people. On the image is written a quote that is falsely attributed to the French philosopher Voltaire: "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." Cusack wrote in his tweet: "Follow the money."
The image and the fake quote have both been widely used online by white supremacists and antisemites. While Cusack was subject to immediate criticism, he at first defended his retweet of the image, saying that he was simply criticizing the actions of the Israeli government.
Later he admitted that the image was antisemitic, not just critical of Israel, and deleted both the original tweet and his justifications.
"It's clear that even if it was Israel's flag & even if you don't have antisemitic bone in your body, it is still an antisemitic cartoon," Cusack tweeted. "Because it deploys anti jewish stereotypes in its attacks on Israel, even if those critiques about state violence are legit I mistakenly... retweeted an alt right account I thought was agreeing With the horrible bombing of a hospital in Palestine."
As the criticism continued to pile on, Cusack offered another apology.
"In reaction to Palestinian human rights under Israeli occupation, an issue that concerns anyone fighting for justice, I RT’d & quickly deleted an image that’s harmful to both Jewish - & Palestinian friends, & for that I’m sorry," he tweeted. "The image depicted a blue Star of David, which I associated with Israel as their flag uses the same color & shape. I know the star itself is deeply meaningful to Jews no matter where they stand on Israel’s attacks on Palestinians. The use of the star, even if it depicts the state of Israel- committing human rights violations - when combined with anti Jewish tropes about power- is antisemitic & antisemitism has no place in any rational political dialoge [sic]. To justify it - Would be as bad as conflating the cross with US flag when confronting US atrocities," he continued. "So I get why it was a careless dumb thing to retweet."
Reactions to Cusack's original tweet, and his rambling apology, were swift and varied.
Senator Ted Cruz tweeted a screenshot of Cusack's original tweet, and used it to score political points.
"Is John Cusack one of the freshmen trio of Dem women?" he wrote. "I’m sensing a pattern...."
The American Jewish Committee, meanwhile, poked fun at Cusack's panned 2010 film.
"If only John had some sort of Hot Tub Time Machine to go back in time and stop himself from retweeting this," AJC wrote on Twitter.
Huffington Post reporter Yashar Ali slammed Cusack's original defense, posting screenshots of his denials that have since been deleted: "His 'bot' excuse is absurd," Ali wrote. "This is disgusting."
New York Times editor Bari Weiss wrote: "Gotta love Cusack's defense: "I thought I was endorsing a pro Palestinian justice retweet" and "Its obviously meant to be the flag, put it this way I didn't think 'Jews' when i saw it...all I thought was 'Israel.'"
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