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Steven Spielberg warns of rising antisemitism and extremism in wake of Israel-Hamas war

Steven Spielberg has given an impassioned speech urging the importance of stopping the rise of antisemitism and extremist views amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas which began in October.

The 77-year-old director was speaking at a ceremony to honour the USC Shoah Foundation – a non-profit organisation he founded, which documents interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust, during which some six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

Pic: USC/Sean Dube/PA
Undated handout photo issued by the University of Southern California of Steven Spielberg speaking during a ceremony which honoured the USC Shoah Foundation, receiving the University of Southern California (USC) Medallion
Image: Pic: USC/Sean Dube/PA

The foundation – which he created in 1994 following the release of his Oscar-winning film Schindler’s List – received the University of Southern California (USC) Medallion, which is its highest honour.

Acknowledging the current climate amid the Israel-Hamas war, Spielberg said: “I am increasingly alarmed that we may be condemned to repeat history, to once again have to fight for the very right to be Jewish.”

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 74,000 injured in Israeli military action since the conflict began, according to Gaza‘s Hamas-led health ministry. Israel retaliated after fighters from Hamas – a proscribed terror group in the UK – killed more than 1,000 Israelis and took hundreds of hostages in attacks on 7 October last year.

Spielberg went on: “We can rage against the heinous acts committed by the terrorists of October 7 and also decry the killing of innocent women and children in Gaza.

“This makes us a unique force for good in the world and is why we are here today to celebrate the work of the Shoah Foundation, which is more crucial now than it even was in 1994.

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“It is crucial in the wake of the horrific October 7 massacre. It is crucial to the stopping of political violence caused by misinformation, conspiracy theories and ignorance.

“It is crucial because 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 civilised world.”

‘Echoes of history’

Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation documents the testimonies of 55,000 Holocaust survivors. At the ceremony itself, 30 Holocaust survivors and their families were present.

Spielberg went on to say: “The echoes of history are unmistakable in our current climate.

“The rise of extremist views has created a dangerous environment and radical intolerance [that] leads [to] a society [which] no longer celebrates differences, but instead conspires to demonise those who are different to the point of creating ‘the other’.

“The idea of ‘the other’ is an idea that poisons discourse and creates a dangerous wedge throughout our communities. ‘Othering’ rationalises prejudice.

“It encourages the wilful denial and distortion of reality to enforce preconceptions. Othering is the kindling that fuels extremism and illiberalism.”

‘Condemned to repeat the past’

He also said the creation of “the other” is the foundation of fascism and is “an old playbook that has been dusted off and being widely distributed today.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

One of Spielberg’s best-known films, Schindler’s List, tells the true-life story of German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of over a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factory during the Second World War.

It won seven Oscars in 1994, including best picture and director for Spielberg.

The director said it became his “mission” to create a permanent record for “the families, for history, for education, and for every future generation”.

“Never again. Never again. Never again,” he concluded.

Sky News Source