Did Tom Cruise and Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder band together to bankrupt an alt-weekly newspaper and falsely label it anti-Semitic? That's the titillating suggestion made by Tablet magazine, a Jewish news and culture site, in an article published today.
Here's the background: the Redskins' owner is suing The Washington City Paper for $2 million over an article it published in November chronicling his professional failures (the Redskins have only had three winning seasons and two playoff game victories in the 12 years since he owned them). Around the same time of the suit, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group based in Los Angeles, joined Snyder's criticism of the article, calling on the City Paper to apologize to Snyder for running a photo alongside the article depicting the owner with devil horns. "It is inappropriate and unacceptable when a symbol like this--associated with virulent anti-Semitism going back to the Middle Ages, deployed by the genocidal Nazi regime... is used on the front cover of a publication," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center.
To Tablet's Marc Tracy, who is Jewish, the accusation was baseless. "The image is plainly a juvenile scribbling, not a conjuring of medieval stereotypes concerning Jewish perfidiousness," he writes. In February, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg expressed similar thoughts. "The image isn't anti-Semitic," he said, "at least not to anyone who has ever gone to grade school and/or has scrawled on a magazine." He was surprised that Snyder "enlisted" the help of the Wiesenthal Center. Tracy is also suspicious of why the center so quickly pounced on the article. "Snyder is not a big donor to the Center or indeed particularly active in the national or local Jewish communities," he writes. "Yet the Center's charge remains unretracted, my request for clarification lodged two weeks ago unanswered. What gives?"
Tracy then posits an intriguing theory:
Yesterday, the Simon Wiesenthal Center awarded its annual Humanitarian Award to Tom Cruise, apparently a long-time supporter of (read: Donor to) the Los Angeles-based organization. And who is Tom Cruise close friends with? Dan Snyder, that’s who. The two have done business deals. But they are actual friends: Despite the end of their professional relationship in 2007, in 2009 Cruise was on the sidelines for the Skins' embarrassing loss at Detroit (arguably even more embarrassing than the Skins' 2010 loss against Detroit).
Does Cruise have something to do with the Simon Wiesenthal Center's seemingly inexplicable involvement? I obviously don't know, although until the Wiesenthal Center calls me back and tells me that they still stand by their charge or no longer do so, I am going to question whether he does. What I do know is that Cruise and Snyder deserve each other, and Redskins fans deserve neither.
Interesting theory, Marc!
Cruise isn't Snyder's only connection to the Wiesenthal Center, however. As a reader points out, Snyder's former employee, Eran Broshy, who served as CEO of Snyder Healthcare Services, now serves on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's New York executive board. Either Broshy or Cruise could've encouraged the center to admonish the City Paper on behalf of Snyder. Then again, maybe the Wiesenthal Center acted alone. Maybe it just genuinely feels that accusing an alt-weekly (with three Jewish editors and one Jewish creative director) of anti-Semitism because it published a silly doodle is a good use of time and resources.