Columns Jeffrey Salkin: Martini Judaism Opinion

John Cusack — seriously?

There is no other way to say it.

John Cusack is a tool.

The other day, Cusack re-tweeted an image of a hand, adorned with the Star of David, pushing down a group of people.

It included the quote, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

Cusack then added: “Follow the money.”

Where have we seen this before?

It is a classic antisemitic theme — which most recently emerged from the hand of Rep. Ilhan Omar, who commented on American political support for Israel: “It’s about the Benjamins.”

As in the old saw about Jews and their economic power.

The actor has since deleted the tweet, and has admitted:

“Even if you don’t have [sic] antisemitic bone in your body, it is still an antisemitic cartoon…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 antisemitic & antisemitism has no place in any rational political dialoge [sic].”

Notice that in his apology, Cusack just had to say that Israel commits human rights violations.

Lest you forget.

At this point, I’m tempted to say that Cusack’s mind is “Grosse Point Blank.”

It wasn’t “serendipity” that he sent that tweet.

Like far too many on the cultural and political far left, he shows “high fidelity” to anti-Israel messages.

He might even sympathize with “the grifters” who think that the Jewish state would be “better off dead.”

At this point, he might want to consider  “being John Malkovich.”

How could Cusack have done such a thing?

It is easy to understand.

First: We look to actors, sports heroes, and other celebrities, and we somehow imagine, to paraphrase Tevye, “when you’re rich [and famous] they think you really know.”

There are smart, informed Hollywood actors.

But, that is hardly a given. Celebrities make bigoted comments all too frequently.

Think of Mel Gibson, whose antisemitic tirades have, at least temporarily, interfered with his career.

Think of Roger Waters, whose anti-Israel agitation has ventured into antisemitic waters (sorry).

Second: Cusack could easily do this, and not even notice that he was trafficking in an alt-right theme.

He would not be alone in such an error.

Leftists ignore the fact that their anti-Israel stuff often morphs into antisemitism. It’s the same kind of antisemitism that emerges from the right.

There is actually only one thing that both the extreme left, and the extreme right have invited common — and that is hatred of the Jews.

Third: the idea that one is not allowed to criticize Israel is ludicrous.

There is nothing inherently antisemitic about criticizing Israeli policies.

If that were the case, then a large percentage of the Israeli public, and many American Jews, and their leaders, would be antisemitic.

But, if Israel is the only country that you think should disappear because of its many moral challenges and policies, that is a problem.

Fourth: there seems to be very little public cost to celebrities and intellectuals whose critique of Israel and/or her policies wander into antisemitic ideas.

Yes, Jews protest.

But, anyone else?

I would go so far as to say that being anti-Israel is now cool and “woke.”

When it comes to Israel, unfortunately, John Cusack is far from the only one who fails to demonstrate “love and mercy.”

 

 

 

About the author

Jeffrey Salkin

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla., and the author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality and ethics, published by Jewish Lights Publishing and Jewish Publication Society.