Steven Spielberg Blasts Antisemitism and Anti-Muslim Hate, Says He’s ‘Increasingly Alarmed’ by ‘Rise in Extremist Views’

Steven Spielberg denounced the “rise of extremist views” on Monday and called for people to use “the power of empathy” against antisemitism or anti-Muslim hate. He also spoke out on behalf of both those killed by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 and innocent women and children killed in Gaza.

“We can rage against the heinous acts committed by the terrorists of Oct. 7 and also decry the killing of innocent women and children in Gaza,” the filmmaker and Shoah Foundation founder said as he accepted the University of Southern California’s highest honor, the University Medallion. “This makes us a unique force for good in the world. And here’s why we are here today to celebrate the work of the Shoah Foundation, which is more crucial now than it even was in 1994.”

He continued, “The echoes of history are unmistakable in our current climate. In the face of brutality, and persecution, we have always been resilient and compassionate people who all understand the power of empathy.”

The “Schinder’s List” director said that “the rise in extremist views has created a dangerous environment,” which leads to “radical intolerance” and “demonizing” those who are different.”

“We see every day how the machinery of extremism has been used on college campuses, where fully 50% of students say they have experienced some discrimination because they are Jewish. This is also happening alongside anti-Muslim, Arab and Sikh discrimination,” Spielberg continued.

“The foundation of fascism has been dusted off and is being widely distributed today. I’m increasingly alarmed that we may be condemned to repeat history to once again to fight for the very right to be Jewish.

“Stopping the rise of antisemitism and hate of any kind is critical to the health of our democratic republic and the future of democracy all over the civilized world.”

Spielberg called himself “incredibly fortunate” to spend his life “just telling stories,” adding that stories “are one of our strongest weapons in the fight against antisemitism and racial and religious hatred.”

After the Oct. 7 attacks, Spielberg issued a statement on Dec. 1 in which he said, “I never imagined I would see such unspeakable barbarity against Jews in my lifetime.” At the time, the Shoah Foundation launched the Countering Antisemitism Through Testimony Collection initiative to collect testimony from those who survived the attacks.

The University Medallion was also awarded on Monday to Board of Councilors Chair Joel Citron, who is the son of Holocaust survivors, and Celina Biniaz, one of the last living Holocaust survivors from Schindler’s List. Biniaz said, “Oskar Schindler gave me my life, but Spielberg gave me my voice.”

This is just the fourth time in the university’s history that USC has awarded the University Medallion. Monday’s event, held at USC’s Town and Gown building, was attended by 265 people, including more than 30 Holocaust survivors and their families. The last time the award was bestowed was in 2017 to philanthropist Wallis Annenberg.

The USC Shoah Foundation has archived more than 56,000 testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other historical events of genocide and crimes against humanity. This year marks the organization’s 30th anniversary. It was founded by Spielberg following his Oscar-winning 1993 film, “Schindler’s List.”

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