Steven Spielberg warns against ‘history repeating itself’ amid rising antisemitism

The legendary director was being honoured at a Holocaust testimony organisation he helped found 30 years ago


BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 12: Steven Spielberg attends the 96th Oscars Nominees Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton on February 12, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images)

Steven Spielberg has said that he is “increasingly alarmed” that history may be at risk of repeating itself where Jews may once again have to fight for the “very right to be Jewish.”

The renowned Jewish filmmaker also said that every day one could see how the “machinery of extremism is being used on college campuses, where 50 per cent of students say they have experienced some discrimination because they are Jewish.”

He warned that discrimination and dehumanisation against any one group based on their differences, and the creation of “the other”, is the “foundations of fascism” and an idea that “poisons discourse and creates a dangerous wedge throughout our communities.”

He said “It’s an old playbook that has been dusted off and being widely distributed today. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
“And 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.”

Spielberg made the comments on Monday during a ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation, which he established in 1994 to collect audio-visual interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust, one year after completing his Academy Award-winning film Schindler’s List.

Acknowledging the war in Gaza, Spielberg said 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.”

He later said that everyone present wished for the safe return of the hostages being held in Gaza.

Spielberg, who is the highest grossing director of all time, has until now largely avoided making statements about the Gaza conflict. Following the October 7 massacre, he said he “never imagined I would see such unspeakable barbarity against Jews in my lifetime.”

He said the work of USC Shoah Foundation, which has accumulated some 56,000 testimonies from survivors of the Holocaust to date, has increased in importance since October 7.

He said the foundation’s efforts was “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.”

Also present for the ceremony and introduced by Spielberg was Holocaust survivor Celina Biniaz, who was saved by Oskar Schindler, whose story is told in Schindler’s List. She said she never spoke about her experience of that time until the film inspired her to do so.

Shaul Ladany, a Holocaust and 1972 Munich Olympics massacre survivor also spoke on stage. Spielberg’s 2005 film Munich is about Israel’s response to that terror attack.

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