American actor John Cusack on Tuesday retweeted an anti-Semitic meme captioned with a neo-Nazi quote, then apologized and deleted his retweet following backlash from his social media followers.
The meme retweeted by Cusack depicted a giant hand emblazoned with a blue Star of David crushing a group of people beneath it, accompanied by the quote: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”
The meme incorrectly attributed the quote to French thinker Voltaire, but it’s actually an excerpt from a 1993 essay by American neo-Nazi Kevin Strom.
Cusack added his own caption to his since-deleted tweet, telling followers to “follow the money.”
The post immediately elicited backlash from online users, who accused Cusack of promoting anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and power.
Cusack initially defended the post, saying that Israel was “committing atrocities against Palestinians” and told outraged followers that he simply retweeted the image, and did not create it.
Several hours later, Cusack deleted the post, and blamed his retweet on a bot.
“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 said.
But many users appeared unconvinced by his explanation, saying it was implausible that a bot was responsible.
As criticism mounted, Cusack acknowledged that he shouldn’t have retweeted the meme, though he insisted the “context was a retweet about Palestinians hospitals being bombed.”
Later, he issued an apology, saying: “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.
“The use of the [Star of David], 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,” he added.