John Cusack and the rise of ‘accidental’ anti-Semitism

He retweeted an alt-right meme and then blamed a bot.

Tom Slater

We’ve all done it. You’re on Twitter, you see a cartoon of a giant hand, with a giant Star of David on its cuff, crushing people below it, and you retweet it, captioning it with the words ‘Follow the money’, almost without thinking. Then, to your horror, people point out that that is proper anti-Semitic. One minute you’re minding your own business, the next minute you’re a massive racist.

Of course, the truth is that we have not all done that. But there seems to be a growing number of people on the liberal-left who are spreading the most incredible anti-Semitic bile as if by accident. This is what Hollywood actor John Cusack did last night, when he retweeted the anti-Semitic cartoon described above, apparently from an alt-right account:

You’ll note the meme is also emblazoned with the words, ‘To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise’ – a phrase coined by a white supremacist but often misattributed to Voltaire. Just to ram the dodginess of the whole thing home, the big hand is also wearing a diamond pinky ring.

Cusack has ludicrously blamed a bot, adding: ‘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 (sic).’ It’s an explanation that might carry more weight if he hadn’t initially defended his Jew-baiting tweet. He also, lest we forget, added that classy ‘follow the money’ comment himself.

This is as alarming as it is depressingly familiar. While we are today generally adept at spotting other racist tropes in other instances, many supposed liberals and progressives have a bizarre blindspot where anti-Semitism is concerned. Another recent example of this came a few weeks ago when the New York Times ran an anti-Semitic cartoon in its international edition.

On the question of whether Cusack harbours anti-Jewish hatred in his heart – no one can really say, definitively. But regardless, the fact that he retweeted that meme and was seemingly surprised and irked by the blowback is telling. The strange rise of ‘accidental’ anti-Semitism shows how blurred the lines between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have become, and how widespread anti-Semitism now is as a result.

Tom Slater is deputy editor at spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


James Gatehouse

21st June 2019 at 10:22 am

A familiar story in which a celeb contributes to something that elsewhere is a serious debate.

When will these people stop it? Their occasional forays into political discourse in order to garner a veneer of popularity for themselves never work. Just look at the efforts of all those pop stars at the start of New Labour standing up like morons declaring that, “things can only get better”, and that Britannia had become, “cool”. Their skin can only crawl with embarrassment these days.

They just aren’t interested enough in anything beyond their own narcissistic needs. More than this, they’ve got absolutely nothing to say and I just wish they would do the decent thing and shut up. This covers celebs jetting in from USA for the afternoon to protest against climate change, flaky Hollywood actresses who think they are oppressed, anyone whose name happens to be Bono, Nish Kumar, or anyone else remotely employed in the jobbing capacity of ‘wandering minstrel’.

Thomas Smith

19th June 2019 at 6:37 pm

Not sure why being an average actor or a bassist makes one a problem?
“To criticize Israel for defending itself”: ?! This just speaks volumes about your nationalist, Zionist delusions. An equivalent statement would be that Custer had the right to “defend America” from the same people he said were best dead. Marx somewhere said it best when he said that there really is no homogenous entity called “the nation.” The nation is divided, in REALITY, into CLASSES. Unless you are extremely wealthy (and have a planet somewhere to which you can escape in your rocket ship in case of the nuclear and environmental annihilation impending because of continued bourgeois rule of this planet) your loyalty does not lie with the poor, poor pitiful bourgeois nation-state of “Israel,” but with international working class, including the Arab and Jewish workers in Palestine who are now divided by their Zionist bourgeois overlords. If you don’t understand that, you understand nothing.

Thomas Smith

19th June 2019 at 10:11 am

First I am glad that sp!ked has launched this new comments policy. Perhaps now the anti-communist bullies may be weeded out.
Second, does not the Star of David appear prominently in the Israeli flag? Where does in fact criticism of the bourgeois state of Israel end, and where does anti-Semitism begin?
Third, who is in fact the greatest perpetrator of “blurring the lines between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism”?! Certainly, today it is the Zionists, who literally wrap themselves in the star of David to immunize themselves from criticism for their persecution of the Palestinians, which divides the working class of Palestine, privileging one sector while super oppressing the other. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, this whinging about anyone criticizing their misrule, as automatically anti-Semitic, is the first refuge today of these scoundrels. sp!ked editors and writers are engaging in sheer folly by indulging such nonsense. Let’s stop attacking errant celebrities and let’s critique and attack the genuine sources of anti-Semitism today. The fascists who murdered Heather Heyer were quite unambiguous in their anti-Semitic slogans: Jews shall not replace us!” Why don’t we see anything about these fascist movements on the pages of sp!ked. I see reports about them on the pages of the, every day: how prominent German and American think tanks and universities are sponsoring revisionist historians like Baberowski to research how fascist dictatorships and mass murder should be acceptable! Let’s focus on the real enemy. John Cusak, Roger Waters, and Ilhan Omar are not our enemy and they are not the problem here.

gershwin gentile

19th June 2019 at 1:47 pm

TBF, when Corbyns son tweeted that Israel should be blamed for deaths caused by Hamas rockets (and then stupidly tried to defend it with the “yeah, but they’ve done before, right” comment), there was hardly a sound.

“John Cusak, Roger Waters, and Ilhan Omar are not our enemy and they are not the problem here” Well, the first two are 1. average actor who was in a few films that people who don’t want to grow up like 2. A bassist and let’s talk about Omar, shall we?

Not the enemy, perhaps not, but she is a problem, unless you think it’s ok to say you are against the BSD Israel movement to the Jewish people who vote for you, then contradict that?

You see, to criticize Israel for defending itself, or to remain silent on the human rights issues of it’s neighbours, as nearly all “Anti-Zionists” do, is going to be seen as anti-semitism.

If you invite a terrorist group (who have called for the destruction of Israel) to tea and sarnies, call them friends and never call them out on their rather backwards views toward women etc, then you will be called an anti semite.

Now, let’s ask the question of why Israel doesn’t execute homosexuals, but is seen as “Nazis”, but it’s neighbours do. I mean, Palestine can be described as more liberal than it’s Muslim neighbours, but only because homosexuality is just illegal there.

Oh, and let’s remind ourselves that, it’s a little hypocritical to refer to Israel as Nazis, considering Palestine sided with the ACTUAL Nazis during the second world war.

Thomas Smith

20th June 2019 at 1:36 am

And in any case, you’re simply proving my point, Gershwin. This little tempest in a teapot about Ilhan, et alia has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. It’s their anti-Zionism you can’t stand. And you Zionists are the one “blurring the lines” here. Why not go after the real anti-Semites, who are getting stronger, backed by capitalist governments, every day?
Again, if I haven’t made myself clear–to say that “Israel has the right to defend itself against criticism,” or criticism of Israel’s right to defend itself” is somehow inadmissable is bourgeois nationalist nonsense, and totalitarian identity politics (as well as a good example of what Hannah Arendt talks about in the ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM, when powerful states use pitiable defenses by the people they’re destroying, in order to whinge about how they’re being attacked and therefore are justified in employing violence hundreds of times more lethal). It’s as if you think of Israel as a PERSON. It’s not a person. it’s a class divided society, and the ruling class is using this divisive “self-determination” and “why can’t the Jews have a homeland, too” (as if anybody else in the entire world, ANY OTHER SINGLE PEOPLE, had such a right to EXCLUSIVELY control ANY national territory) nonsense to secure its power and profits.

Andrew Mcguiness

22nd June 2019 at 8:36 am

Well put, you saved me from having to write it.

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