Steven Spielberg

Holocaust survivors urge Steven Spielberg to break his silence and support Israel in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war, emphasizing the importance of his influential voice for peace and justice.

By Shiryn Ghermezian, Algemeiner

A letter sent to Steven Spielberg on behalf of thousands of Holocaust survivors urged the famed Jewish filmmaker to break his silence regarding the Israel-Hamas war by publicly voicing support for the Jewish state and for the return of the more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas terrorists from Israel.

“Schindler’s List was about one man having the moral courage to risk his life to save others. We are not asking you to risk your life. We are asking you to use your voice,” David Schaecter, the president of the Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation USA (HSF), wrote in the letter sent on Nov. 2. He was referring to Spielberg’s 1993 film about German businessman Oscar Schindler, who saved the lives of about 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.

“Take it from those of us who were subjected to the most brutal and deadly antisemitism of all time: It will never go away, and Jews will never be safe until Israel is safe and secure,” Schaecter further wrote. “As the premier Jewish filmmaker in the world, your silence now is a comfort for our enemies. Your full-throated support for Israel and the Jewish people at this moment would make a real difference, not only for our people, but for the world. We do not need another film in three years about the horrors of Oct. 7. Instead, we need you and others to speak out NOW [sic], when it truly matters.”

HSF is the only organization solely run by Holocaust survivors that looks out for the needs of fellow survivors. Schaecter, 94, lost 105 family members in the Holocaust, making him the only person in his family to survive Nazi persecution during World War II.

He told Spielberg that he and thousands of other Holocaust survivors are “heartbroken” that the E.T. director has not spoken out publicly since Hamas’ Oct. 7 onslaught across southern Israel to denounce the terrorists “and the millions who celebrate the shedding of Jewish blood — and want more.”

“With all my heart, I encourage you to speak out for the children, women, and men kidnapped and held hostage, and in support of Israel and Israel’s right to defend herself,” Schaecter wrote.

He explained that Holocaust survivors “personally saw the world stand silent” as their family members were murdered during World War II and countries turned them away while, at the time, “there was no Jewish nation to which we could flee.”

“Today, we not only see much of the world again remain silent, we see mass demonstrations in many cities and countless posts on social media supporting Hamas,” he added. “We see the mainstream media slanting coverage to suggest moral equivalency between Hamas’ unspeakable atrocities against innocent Israelis and Israel’s right to self-defense against terrorists who use Palestinian children as human shields … You know the history, and we need your voice not to allow these distortions to persist.”

Spielberg is the founder of the USC Shoah Foundation, a nonprofit organization that records audio and visual testimonies with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust as well as other genocides. Schaecter pointed out the goal of the USC Shoah Foundation in his letter and asked Spielberg to keep that in mind when considering whether or not he should publicly support Israel now.

“Wasn’t the entire purpose of recording fifty thousand testimonies of our fellow survivors to make sure the world would never be able to deny, and must never forget, the Nazis’ systematic murder of six million Jews, including one and a half million children?” he wrote. “On Oct. 7, Hamas committed the worst atrocities against the Jewish people since the Holocaust. As one young Jewish woman, whose sister and nieces are living in a bomb shelter and brother-in-law is on the Gaza border, wrote recently: Never Again Is Now.”

The letter was also signed by HSF’s executive committee. Spielberg has refused to meet with HSF since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, according to the organization.