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?"