Spielberg Speaks Out on Antisemitism as USC Shoah Foundation Bestows Top Honor

On a notable Monday evening, influential director Steven Spielberg took to the stage to deliver a stirring acceptance speech, in which he highlighted a disturbing resurgence of antisemitism. It was a night of dual significance as Spielberg was honored with the USC Medallion, acknowledging his unwavering commitment to the USC Shoah Foundation—a commitment that has endured over three decades. The prestigious honor marks Spielberg’s significant contributions to archiving the narratives of more than 56,000 individuals who survived the Holocaust.

The venue for this important event was the University of Southern California’s own Town and Gown building, where Spielberg addressed attendees by drawing a stark comparison between the historical lessons of the past and the troubling trends emerging today. He pointed to radical intolerance and extremist ideologies as harbingers of danger, implying that such sentiments echo the very premises upon which the darkest chapters of history were written.

Spielberg’s speech cut deep into the collective conscience of his audience as he reflected upon the increase in prejudice faced by Jewish, Muslim, Arab, and Sikh communities. The filmmaker unequivocally called out the act of dehumanizing any collective group due to their inherent differences, labeling it not just as inhumane but as the bedrock of fascism itself.

The significance of the evening extended well beyond the Medallion presentation, as Spielberg stated, “We can rage against the heinous acts committed by the terrorists of October 7th, and also decry the killing of innocent women and children in Gaza. This makes us a unique force for good in the world, and it 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. It is crucial in the wake of the horrific October 7th 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.”

With over 265 distinguished guests in attendance, including Holocaust survivors and noted figures from Hollywood, the urgency to fight against antisemitism—and indeed hatred in all of its manifestations—was a potent theme throughout the engagement. USC President Carol Folt was present as well, underscoring the institution’s unwavering endorsement and revealing their significant financial contribution to the ongoing mission of the Shoah Foundation.

The evening was not solely about Spielberg’s accomplishments or the gravity of his words; it also showcased the pivotal role the Shoah Foundation plays in our modern era. As a bastion against the rise of political violence, the spread of misinformation, and the influence of unfounded conspiracy theories, the Foundation remains a beacon of hope and education.

A further layer to the sentiments expressed during the event was Spielberg’s candid depiction of the Shoah Foundation’s crucial part in safeguarding democracy’s integrity and nurturing its future both in the United States and across the globe. As policymakers, educators, and influencers grapple with the resurgence of ideologies that should have long been consigned to the annals of history, the work and mission of the Shoah Foundation appear more essential than ever.

In a time where the veracity of information is constantly questioned and the threat of divisive ideologies looms large, voices like Spielberg’s serve as a resounding call to action—a reminder that the lessons of history not only need to be remembered but actively upheld in the pursuit of a more inclusive and empathetic society. By standing against the recurring tide of antisemitism and other forms of sectarian hatred, Spielberg’s passionate oration elucidates a path forward—one steeped in understanding, vigilance, and an unwavering commitment to the common good.

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