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June 18, 2019 1:36 pm

Actor John Cusack Ridiculed for Tweeting ‘Disgusting’ Antisemitic Meme, Blames a ‘Bot’ for Mixup

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

John Cusack. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

American actor John Cusack is facing backlash for retweeting and then deleting an antisemitic meme on Monday. He later blamed the whole ordeal on a “bot.”

The now-deleted post featured a cartoon of a hand with the Star of David emblazoned on it as it pressed down on a group of people. Beside the image was a quote attributed to 18th-century French philosopher Voltaire that said, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Cusack, 52, wrote, “Follow the money,” to accompany the illustration.

Shortly after, Twitter users began responding to Cusack’s post. Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who is co-sponsoring a resolution denouncing antisemitism, criticized the actor on Twitter, saying, “Is John Cusack one of the freshmen trio of Dem women? I’m sensing a pattern…” The “freshmen trio of Dem women” is most likely a reference to Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Journalist Yashar Ali called Cusack’s post “disgusting,” and another social media commenter wrote, “John Cusack is an anti-Semite. Pass it on.”

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Many others noted that the quote was not by Voltaire, but rather white supremacist Kevin Alfred Strom. A Mediaite report from 2015 confirmed that the quote was commonly misattributed to the French philosopher.

Cusack tried to defend himself in a series of tweets, and told one angry Twitter user, “You think Israel isn’t commuting [sic] atrocities against Palestinians? What planet are you on?”

The actor continued, “Palestinian [sic] are forced to live in an open air prison. That’s not anti semetic [sic] to say that — that recognizes their plight as part of the fight for justice.”

Cusack eventually expressed regret for retweeting the illustration, saying: “A bot got me- I thought I was endorsing a pro Palestinian justice retweet — of an earlier post — it came I think from a different source — Shouldn’t Have retweeted.”

He later claimed that he deleted and “apologized” for the meme because he thought the Star of David was a “state flag- & was responding to tthat flag [sic] being used to excuse bombing of a hospital.”

Twitter users called his “bot” excuse “absurd,” and Jewish actor Joshua Malina wrote:

British actress Tracy Ann Oberman tweeted to Cusack, “Oh you’re definitely an anti Semite. That’s a KKK and Far Right trope. If you’re not intelligent enough to work that out you shouldn’t consider yourself a Political Left Activist. You’re just a dilettante.”

This is not the first time Cusack has used anti-Israel rhetoric on Twitter. In 2014, he tweeted about “an apartheid wall that imprisons people of Gaza,” and called Operation Protective Edge “murder.”

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