John Cusack blames Twitter bot for anti-Semitic tweet

Actor John Cusack defended then eventually deleted an anti-Semitic tweet he retweeted with an anti-Semitic comment, according to screenshots shared by journalist Yashar Ali.

The tweets have since been deleted, but according to the screenshots, they were sent Monday night. 

Cusack retweeted a comment addressed to him by user @mhtamimi12, with the quote “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize, — Voltaire,” next to the image of a large hand wearing the Star of David crushing a crowd of people.

Although it’s signed as a quote by Voltaire, it was actually a quote by white nationalist and Holocaust denier Kevin Alfred Strom. The user, @mhtamimi12 was responding a tweet where Cusack shared an article about 2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren defending Israeli forces bombing Gaza schools in “self-defense.”

After receiving pushback for it, Cusack reportedly defended his stance in a series of tweets.

“Was re tweeting FYI,” he wrote in one response.

“You think Israel isn’t committing atrocities against Palestinians  ?” he wrote in another defensive tweet. “What [planet] are you on?”

In response to user @BenUdashen’s comment, “Pro-Tip from anti-Zionist Jew: don’t use the Israeli flag in your imagery,” Cusack wrote, “What’s the alternative?”

People immediately called him out on his very clearly anti-Semitic content. 

He later wrote in a now-deleted tweet,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.”

Soon afterwards, he deleted both the original tweet and the defensive posts.

Later, on Monday evening, he addressed the anti-Semitism of his original tweet, but it was too late:

Conflating anti-Semitism with support for Palestine has been a part of recent discourse, with Rep. Ilhan Omar’s criticism of Israel being flagged as anti-Semitic (Omar later apologized for one of her comments).

If anything, that conversation has helped establish clear lines between criticism of Israeli policies in Palestine and propagating anti-Semitic rhetoric. Sharing and then defending anti-Semitic content and passing it off as anti-Zionist only hurts this conversation. 

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Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque