The actor John Cusack at a press conference at a film festival in Berlin, Germany, on Feb. 16, 2016. Credit: Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock.
John Cusack, who became a famous actor with several films in the 1980s, will be in Birmingham on March 10 for “An Evening with John Cusack,” an event hosted by the Alys Stevens Center.
But in some circles, Cusack is now known as a Hamas apologist and antisemite, actively tweeting invective against “Zionists,” who he claims are not real Jews. He tweets and retweets dozens of times daily, mainly regarding Gaza and condemning Israeli actions there.
On Jan. 26, the advocacy group stopantisemitism.org named Cusack their Antisemite of the Week, stating it was “long overdue.” This came five days after Jewish News Syndicate, to which Southern Jewish Life is an affiliate, posted an article about how, in pro-Israel circles, being blocked on X, formerly Twitter, by Cusack is a badge of honor.
Cusack responded to the StopAntisemitism announcement with “Wow — a complete list of lies,” but he deleted the tweet a few hours later. Another deleted tweet of his accused the group of trying to smear peace activists with the label of bigotry.
StopAntisemitism then said on Jan. 30 that it “unequivocally stands by its decision to spotlight John Cusack as its ‘Antisemite of the Week’,” and posted screenshots of him posting or retweeting items he denied saying.
In the 1980s, Cusack appeared in “Sixteen Candles,” “The Sure Thing,” “Better Off Dead” and “Say Anything.” His film career has continued since then, including “Being John Malkovich,” “High Fidelity,” for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe, and “Love and Mercy,” a biopic where he portrayed Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys.
The March 10 event, which was announced as part of the year’s lineup last summer, will include a special screening of “Love and Mercy” in the Jemison Concert Hall, with a live question and answer session following. A VIP experience is available, with choice seats and a photo opportunity with Cusack following the event.
While almost exclusively condemning Israel, he has also stated that he wants peace for Palestinians and Israelis. “Let’s stop the rhetoric and choosing sides. Instead we must recognize that we are all on the side of the fight against terrorism. Choose humanity over violence.”
A member of the far-left Democratic Socialists of America, Cusack supported Senator Bernie Sanders, also a vocal critic of Israel, in his 2016 and 2020 presidential bids, applauding Sanders for calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a racist during a Democratic presidential debate.
Cusack has a history of criticizing Israeli defensive measures. As early as 2012, David Lange of Israellycool had him in a list of anti-Israel celebrities.
Cusack tweeted in 2014 during the Israel-Gaza conflict that bombing people who cannot escape is not defense, and it “does not mean one supports Hamas means to be against murder as solution to political problem.” That year, he also criticized Israel’s “apartheid wall,” the security barrier that Israel built around the West Bank in response to Palestinian terror attacks in the early 2000s, saying instead it was imprisoning the people of Gaza.
The best-known incident involving Cusack was in 2019, when he retweeted an antisemitic meme, depicting a giant hand with a blue Star of David crushing a group of people, with the quote “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”
The meme erroneously credits the quote to Voltaire, but it is actually from a 1993 essay by Kevin Strom, an American neo-Nazi.
Cusack urged readers to “follow the money” in retweeting the meme, and defended the post because Israel was “committing atrocities against Palestinians.” After a backlash, though, he apologized, deleted the post and said a bot had tweeted it on his account.
In 2018, when Lorde bowed to pressure from boycott-Israel activists and cancelled performances in Israel, Cusack defended her freedom of conscience.
He has been particularly active since the Oct. 7 Hamas massacres, denying Hamas atrocities and saying that Hamas was an Israeli creation “in an attempt to weaken the Palestinian Authority.”
On Jan. 17, he retweeted a message that “Hamas was originally a charity organization funded and supported by Israel. You’ll have to ask Netanyahu why he funded and put Hamas in power.”
Cusack said the next day that Netanyahu backed Hamas “to ensure a two-state solution never came to pass” and to give Netanyahu “a pawn to blame.”
He also has belittled mass rapes of Israelis by Hamas on Oct. 7 and of hostages since then, retweeting articles alleging rapes by members of the Israeli Defense Forces.
Cusack also has tweeted that the U.S. government, through support of Israel, is bankrolling genocide in Gaza.
On Jan. 22, he reposted a quote by Mark Twain about reading some obituaries “with great pleasure,” with the original poster noting “How I look at Zionist obituary notices.” He also reposted a comment about X owner Elon Musk visiting Auschwitz that stated “Musk is already in the back pocket of Zionists and X has become the official pro genocide mouthpiece.”
On Jan. 24, a retweet by Cusack stated “Zionism is not Judaism. Nobody who opposes Zionist pigs like Netanyahu and his friends are antisemitic… I hate Nazis who wear the star as a badge of racist, blood thirsty terrorism.”
His retweets include calls to dismantle Israel, and accusations that Israel is looking for new ways to starve Gazans. He also has retweeted claims that Israel is planning on setting up Jewish villages in Gaza as part of a “Jewish supremacy” plan.
On Jan. 28, he retweeted and emphasized a quote said to be from a Holocaust survivor, that Judaism is highly ethical but “you can only connect the words aggressive, oppressive, stealing and robbing with Zionism. Zionism & Judaism are contrary to each other.”
On Jan. 27 he tweeted that Israel had dropped more bombs on Gaza than were dropped on Germany during World War II.
The JNS piece quoted Modern Talmud, which stated “For Jewish Twitter, getting blocked by John Cusack is the new blue check,” referring to the platform’s prior verification system for notable accounts.
Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, director of Chabad of the Bluegrass and of the University of Kentucky Jewish Student Center, was quoted saying that he has been calling Cusack out for his “unhinged antisemitism since before it was cool, and yet he hasn’t blocked me.”
“It feels antisemitic,” Litvin wrote sarcastically.
The Daily Freier, an online satire site, listed the Top Ten excuses by teachers working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East as to why they joined Hamas, and stated No. 3 as “I wanted to impress John Cusack.”
Added Cusack’s response to StopAntisemitism and the group’s defense of calling him out, Jan. 30.