John Cusack expressed regret Monday night after retweeting an inflammatory image that has been slammed as anti-Semitic.
The Say Anything actor retweeted an image of a large hand, whose arm wore a Star of David sleeve, crushing a mass of people. Next to the image was the quote "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."
Although the quote was mistakenly attributed to the philosopher Voltaire, it is actually based on the writings of white nationalist Kevin Strom.
This is disgusting pic.twitter.com/4b2RlPrNfL— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 17, 2019
Cusack, 52, added the remark, "Follow the money."
When critics slammed the tweet as "disgusting" and anti-Semitic, Cusack wrote that he was speaking out against Israel's "state violence" against Palestinians, rather than criticizing those of the Jewish faith. He did acknowledge that the tweet, which he has since deleted, included an "alt-right" image. In another now-deleted tweet, he wrote that "a bot got me."
"I'm anti fascist-in every respect," he added in response to the backlash.
Cusack's explanation that an alt-right bot tricked him did little to quell the criticism against him, with critics calling on him to apologize. One commenter called 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.
"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."
"While I won't take guff from anyone looking to score cheap shots on a [careless] mistweet, [it's] good to use my mistake to spread awareness," he added. "Solidarity and peace to all."
Photo credit: Pascal Le Segretain / Staff / Getty