John Cusack sparked outcry Monday night after retweeting an inflammatory image that has been slammed as anti-Semitic.
The 52-year-old actor, who frequently posts about politics and social issues on his Twitter account, retweeted an image of a sleeve stamped with a Star of David, the hand jutting from it crushing a mass of people. Next to the image is the quote “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize,” which, despite being mistakenly attributed to the philosopher Voltaire, is actually based on the writings of white nationalist Kevin Strom.
When critics slammed the “disgusting’ tweet as anti-Semitic, Cusack insisted that he was speaking out against what he called Israel’s “state violence” against Palestinians, rather than criticizing those of the Jewish faith. He did acknowledge that the tweet, which he deleted, included an “alt-right” image. In another now-deleted tweet, he said that a “bot got me.”
John Cusack through the years
John Cusack through the years
PONTIAC - AUGUST 3: GRANDVIEW, U.S.A., theatrical movie originally released August 3, 1984. Pictured left to right, C. Thomas Howell (as Tim Pearson, back to camera), Elizabeth Gorcey (as Bonnie Clark) and John Cusack (as Johnny Maine). Frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 11: John Cusack as Lane Meyer in the 1985 movie, "Better Off Dead". Image is a frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
John Cusack in a publicity portrait from the film 'Better Off Dead', 1985. (Photo by CBS/Getty Images)
Swan defender Ian Roberts, on the mend after undergoing major cheat surgery, pictured with girlfriend Lee Cusack and Bourbon the cat at Clovelly today. May 20, 1987. (Photo by John Patrick O'Gready/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).
John Cusack (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - APRIL 25: John Cusack attends the premiere party for "Scandal" on April 25, 1989 at Stringfellow's in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Actor John Cusack and actress Annette Bening attend the 49th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 19, 1991 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Joan Cusack and John Cusack (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - OCTOBER 11: John Cusack attends the premiere of "Bullets Over Broadway" on October 11, 1994 at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
John Cusack during "The Rock" San Francisco Premiere at Pier 41 in San Francisco, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - FEBRUARY 5: John Cusack and Susannah Melvoin attend the premiere of "City Hall" on February 5, 1996 at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
John Cusack and Paul Hipp during "Midnight In The Garden of Good And Evil" World Premiere in Burbank at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
9th December 1999: Portrait of American actor John Cusack wearing a navy overcoat, a blue sweatshirt, and black jeans, smiling outdoors, Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Munawar Hosain/Fotos International/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18: (ITALY OUT) Actor John Cusack looks for a cab at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue October 18, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Arnaldo Magnani/Getty Images)
John Cusack during "Runaway Jury" - Los Angeles Premiere at Cinerama Dome Theatre in Hollywood, CA, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 21: John Cusack attends the premiere of Focus Features of "The Ice Harvest" November 21, 2005 in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Matt Carmichael/Getty Images)
TOKYO - NOVEMBER 17: Actor John Cusack attends "2012" Japan Premiere at Roppongi Hills Arena on November 17, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. The film will open on November 21 in Japan. (Photo by Jun Sato/WireImage)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 22: Actor John Cusack speaks at "The Raven" Panel during Comic-Con 2011 on July 22, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 22: Elizabeth Banks and John Cusack film scenes for "Love and Mercy" on August 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chinchilla/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: John Cusack attends the 'CHI-RAQ' New York premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater on December 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 28: John Cusack at the Spooky Empire Horror Convention at the Hyatt Regency on October 28, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Manny Hernandez / Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 30: A live skype feed with, John Cusack, Executive Producer James L. Brooks, Ione Skye, Director Cameron Crowe and moderator David Edelstein speak at the screening of "Say Anything..." 30th Anniversary - 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 30, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
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recognize Palestinian are forced to live in an open air prison. That’s not anti semetic to say that - that recognizes their plight as part of the fight for justice
Yes -if image wasPalestinians being squashed- it would have been ok - but Israel gov doesn’t speak for all of Jewish faith any more the us gov under trump speaks for Christians. RT #Palestine#Freedom#FreePalestine
“I’m anti fascist-in every respect,” he added in response to the uproar.
The Say Anything star’s explanation and blame on an alt-right bot did little to abate critics, who called on him to apologize. One commenter dubbed him the “thinking man’s Scott Baio” — a reference to the conservative ‘80s star — while Sen. Ted Cruz compared Cusack to Rep. Ilhan Omar, who was accused of an anti-Semitic tweet earlier this year.
2. A bot got you? You defended your posting of it in several quote tweets before you deleted.
Also why do your tweets look like you’re tweeting from 10 years ago. Use the twitter app dude. https://t.co/JGt0ubqYOg
This is open, violent anti-semitism in mainstream American life. This a threat to Jews of course, but also to American Democracy. A simple apology and pivot to Israel is not enough. You owe us a real apology and action to make amends @johncusackhttps://t.co/IzAcLa19I8
John Cusack tweeted something blatantly anti-Semitic, thinking it was just anti-Israel.
The fact that in 2019 a celebrity can openly share anti-Jewish stuff like this and genuinely think it's politically OK tells you a lot about why Israel became necessary and remains so. pic.twitter.com/2Qaqb21w9x
The backlash prompted Cusack to backtrack and express regret for the anti-Semitic messaging.
"It's clear that even if it was Israel's flag and even if you don't have an anti-Semitic bone in your body, it is still an anti-Semitic 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.
"In reaction to Palestinian human rights under Israeli occupation, an issue that concerns anyone fighting for justice, I retweeted and quickly deleted an image that’s harmful to both Jewish and Palestinian friends, and for that I’m sorry," he continued.
"The image depicted a blue Star of David, which I associated with Israel as their flag uses the same color and 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 anti-Semitic and anti-Semitism has no place in any rational political dialogue. To justify it would be as bad as conflating the cross with U.S. flag when confronting U.S. atrocities. So I get why it was a careless dumb thing to retweet."
Our brother John Cusack made a mistake that included antisemitism.
His tweets are a little messy so I pasted them into one statement here.
Thank you @johncusack for the apology. Yes antisemitism has no place in dialog.