Face of the day

Acclaimed director Steven Spielberg admitted he was “wrong” to think as a child that anti-Semitism “was fading,” telling Harvard’s graduating class that President Barack Obama was right when he warned that “anti-Semitism is on the rise.”

Spielberg, whose 99-year-old father Arnold sat in one of the first rows at his address before the Ivy League university’s class of 2016, told the graduates Thursday that the world “is full of monsters” espousing “racism, homophobia, ethnic hatred, class hatred” and “religious hatred.”

…“As a kid, I was bullied — for being Jewish,” Spielberg recalled in his speech. “This was upsetting, but compared to what my parents and grandparents had faced, it felt tame. Because we truly believed that anti-Semitism was fading. And we were wrong. Over the last two years, nearly 20,000 Jews have left Europe to find higher ground. And earlier this year, I was at the Israeli embassy when President Obama stated the sad truth. He said: ‘We must confront the reality that around the world, anti-Semitism is on the rise. We cannot deny it.’”

The 69-year-old powerhouse behind iconic movies such as “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan,” as well as blockbusters like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and the Indiana Jones series, also spoke about his Shoah Foundation. The foundation has taken video testimonies of over 53,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses in 63 countries since he founded it in 1994, he said.

The foundation is now collecting testimonies from genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia, Armenia and Nanking, he said, adding, “We must never forget that the inconceivable doesn’t happen — it happens frequently.”

Spielberg provided more details about his childhood brushes with anti-Semitism in a 1993 interview with The New York Times. In that interview, soon after “Schindler’s List” came out, Spielberg, who grew up in Ohio, Arizona and California, recalled, “I was always aware I stood out because of my Jewishness. In high school, I got smacked and kicked around. Two bloody noses. It was horrible.”



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  • Usaywot

    I honestly don’t understand anti semetism. I think of Jewish people as great scholars, writers, intellectuals etc. People I admire. I know a few personally, all great people. I guess it’s that old jealousy thing of hating the successful.

    • oldmanNZ

      people get jeolous if a race is prominenly sucessful.
      The Labour dislike chinese house buying because they are the biggest buyers.

      Racism in NZ is very well alive.

      • kereru

        It’s true that jealousy is poisonous but there are many other factors involved. ‘Racism’ is a very broad brush which doesn’t even touch on the complex details, let alone understand them. In fact I believe that ‘race’ per se has not much to do with it. Culture does, of course, and the language barrier.

        I remember a friend of my parents who had been a prisoner of war in Changi and would not even contemplate buying a Japanese car, or anything else from Japan. He could not bring himself to speak of his wartime experiences. The Japanese in turn dislike the Chinese, not only over the treatment of Japanese ‘comfort girls’ and the refusal of the Chinese to apologise, but because of ancient historic grievances against them. The feeling is mutual. Live in Africa for a short time and you’ll realise how much the tribes hate each other – a lesson quickly learned if you make the mistake of employing two men from different tribes. They’d be at each others’ throats over something as trivial as who owned a piece of soap (a frightening event I witnessed). My diminutive mother had to separate them or they’d have killed each other.

        The Jewish people are a special case because of their Biblical history of being God’s chosen people – not because they were any more virtuous than others, but simply because of God’s soverign choice. Through the line of King David God purposed to bring the Messiah. He also favoured them with great ability, skill and talent.That is nothing to be jealous of and doesn’t mean other peoples are less brilliant. But it has to be acknowledged that Jews excel and punch above their weight in almost every field of endeavour, and have considerably enriched humanity. That’s why they have so much prejudice shown them – the jealousy of high achievement, their special significance to God and the miracle of their survival to the present day.


        • Brian Dingwall

          Oh no Keruru, you have the comfort women story exactly the wrong way round, it was Korean and Chinese women pressed into “service” the Japanese soldiers. My Korean mother-in-law was of the generation, and lived through the Japanese occupation and war. The wounds are still raw.

          • kereru

            My apologies, you’re right – but the principle remains. Old hatreds die hard. Apologising is something that goes against the grain for the proudly nationalistic Japanese. Thanks for the correction.

  • hookerphil

    I remember that a fellow member of my rugby team early teens was apparently a Jew, so what. My only concern was that as he played the same position as me he didn’t get any starts.

  • Doc45

    That is real bullying. Not the “mambi pambi” stuff people write about in the social media. I believe the hatred of Jews goes back generations even to Biblical times. Sometimes they do not help themselves by acting in an arrogant manner but they are a very capable, highly intelligent and generally likable people who have suffered too much.

  • Martin

    Anytime people have a chauvinistic view of themselves as special people chosen by God you have a recipe for behaviour that causes resentment in those people the Talmud or Koran calls cattle pigs dogs monkies or whatever.
    Jewish people have been at the forefront of so much decay – whether through feminism, porn, banking – of the hated WASP goyim culture. Pointing that out isn’t anti-semitism, anymore than pointing out the machinations of global jihad is islamaphobia.
    Can’t we all just get along?

    • kereru

      The Jews are not perfect, any more than any other peoples, including ourselves. Despite their many faults and flaws, and whether we like it or not, they have a long history of Biblical significance. The Jewish State today is secular. There must be a reason why the world is so focussed on one tiny democratic nation in the Middle East and turns a blind eye to the terrible cruelties and injustices of the Islamic world.

      The Talmud does not regard people as mere animals. Islam refers to non-Muslims (including Christians) as sons of apes, pigs and dogs.

      Quran 5:60
      ‘Say (O Muhammad SAW to the people of the Scripture): “Shall I inform you
      of something worse than that, regarding the recompense from Allah:
      those (Jews) who incurred the Curse of Allah and His Wrath, those of
      whom (some) He transformed into monkeys and swines, those who worshipped Taghut (false deities);such are worse in rank (on the Day of Resurrection in the Hellfire), and far more astray from the Right Path (in the life of this world).”’

      Those familiar with Islam know that regardless of an adherent’s ethnicity – be they Egyptian, Persian, Saudi, Pakistani or Iraqi – they are first and foremost Muslims. The factious battles between Sunnis and Shia’as are but a blip on the micro-scale of Islamic tribal life. In the end, the two sparring sects are united in their goal of defeating the larger “satans” who roam the earth.’

      Yes, indeed, why can’t we all get along?

      • Martin

        You know “goyim” means cattle, right?
        I’m not taking an Arab vs Jew position. Both religions are destructive, and yes Islam likely more so, both in terms of hate and body count.
        For the record, I’m a Buddhist, we don’t hate anyone. Very low body count in terms of terrorist acts, and as JC said, you know a tree by its fruit.

        • kereru

          ‘You know “goyim” means cattle, right?’

          In the Torah, goy and its variants appear over 550 times in
          reference to Israelites and to Gentile nations. The first recorded
          usage of goy occurs in Genesis 10:5 and applies innocuously to
          non-Israelite nations. The first mention in relation to the Israelites
          comes in Genesis 12:2, when God promises Abraham that his descendants
          will form a goy gadol (‘great nation’). While the earlier books of the
          Hebrew Bible often use goy to describe the Israelites, the later ones
          tend to apply the term to other nations. It is not an intrinsicallly pejorative or derogatory term. That it may be used as such by some individuals doesn’t alter the correct meaning of the word.

          In this link I’ve noticed just one reference to ‘herds’, but am not sure of the context. It may well feature in the Talmud but is not generally understood as ‘cattle’.


          • Martin

            Thanks for that, you’re probably right on this one.

        • Curious

          While Buddhism is associated in the Western mind with pacifism, Buddhist nations such as Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka have been engaged in vicious conflicts over many decades. And your half baked theories about a Jewish conspiracy behind “feminism, banking and porn” is just that – half baked. 15 million Jews in a world of seven billion. They aren’t avatars!

          • Martin

            To say Jewish people are over-represented among bankers feminists communists and pornographers is not a half-baked theory, it’s a statement of fact.

          • Curious

            So, you have evidence Jews are represented on the far left, in capitalism, amongst libertarians, and a sub-set of the film industry. So what? And the evidence is where? The Protocols of Zion?

          • Martin

            No, it’s pretty easy to find if you have eyes to see and a library or access to google. I should emphasise that I am not anti-Semitic or anti Israel, quite the opposite – I admire the achievements and intellectualism of both. My concern is that if good people cannot speak plainly without someone being “triggered” then speech gets left to those who do hate. Just as we have to care for people to take the time and risk of relieving them of error, so it is important that criticism of Jewish culture is not reflexively seen as a prelude to building gas chambers.

          • Curious

            Well, with eyes open, google and my library…I find that Jews do study hard, and have done so since they were differentiated as being literate in the illiterate Middle Ages (needing to be able to read from the Torah to pass their bar and bat mitzvah). This carried through following emancipation, when roles and opportunities were opened as the walls of the ghetto came down and Jews sought to assimilate into their national societies.

            Today, the Jewish American student organization Hillel found that 9 to 33% of students in leading universities in the US are Jewish. “The Jewish tradition always sanctified studying, and the Jews made an effort to study from the moment they arrived in American,” says Danny Halperin, Israel’s former economic attaché in Washington. “In addition, the Jews have a strong tradition of business entrepreneurship. The Irish, for example, came from families of land workers with a different mentality, studies less and initiated less.”

            “The Jews progressed because many areas were blocked to them,” says Halperin. “Many Irish were integrated into the police force, for example, and only few Jews. The Jews entered new fields in which there was need for people with initiative. They didn’t integrate into traditional banking, so they established the investment banking.” “The cinema industry was created from scratch in the 1930s, and the Jews basically took over it. To this day there are many Jewish names in the top echelon of Hollywood and the television networks. Later on, they took high-tech by storm too – another new industry requiring learning abilities.”

            So, if Jews are proportionally over-represented in tertiary education, the sciences, law, politics, business, film and banking, on the back of sheer hard work, is this a bad thing? And if so, why?