It has been 25 years since the release of Schindler’s List and the film is being re-released in a few theaters to mark the anniversary. Today, NBC News interviewed Spielberg to talk about the film and what it means to him today.
“I think there is more at stake today than even back then,” Spielberg said, referring to when the film was released.
“When collective hate organizes and gets industrialized, then genocide follows,” said Spielberg. “We have to take it more seriously today than I think we have had to take it in a generation,” he said during a time of heightened identity politics and the massacre of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in which the suspected shooter left a trail of anti-Semitic posts online.
There have been a number of Anti-Semitic attacks since the shooting in Pittsburgh but as the NY Times pointed out last month, the people responsible for those crimes don’t always fit the narrative.
Contrary to what are surely the prevailing assumptions, anti-Semitic incidents have constituted half of all hate crimes in New York this year, according to the Police Department. To put that figure in context, there have been four times as many crimes motivated by bias against Jews — 142 in all — as there have against blacks. Hate crimes against Jews have outnumbered hate crimes targeted at transgender people by a factor of 20…
If anti-Semitism bypasses consideration as a serious problem in New York, it is to some extent because it refuses to conform to an easy narrative with a single ideological enemy. During the past 22 months, not one person caught or identified as the aggressor in an anti-Semitic hate crime has been associated with a far right-wing group, Mark Molinari, commanding officer of the police department’s Hate Crimes Task Force, told me.
“I almost wish it was sometimes more clear cut,’’ he said. “It’s every identity targeting every identity.”
That was certainly the case with the person who scrawled “Kill All Jews” inside a New York synagogue last month. He turned out to be a 26-year-old black man who had previously worked for the city on anti-hate initiatives. Another apparent anti-Semitic attack in Los Angeles last month appears to have involved an enraged Muslim driver who nearly ran down two Jewish men with his car.
Today, the Jewish magazine Forward pointed out that despite a number of recent anti-Semitic incidents, white supremacy doesn’t seem to have anything to do with it:
Out of six attacks on Jews in Brooklyn in the last month and a half, three have occurred in Crown Heights. On Oct. 15, a teenager beat a Jewish man with a stick. On Nov. 19, a high school-age yeshiva student was “sucker-punched” by an assailant. On Saturday, a man was punched without provocation on his way to synagogue. The last incident came amid four attacks on Jewish people — two of them on children — that occurred on the same weekend…
The attacks in Crown Heights are “clearly anti-Semitic,” said the executive director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, Rabbi Eli Cohen. But, he said, “if someone feels that white supremacists are feeling more empowered, how would that make a young minority kid hit a Jewish person?”
In fact, Forward quotes one person who suggests the attacks on Jews may be the result of anti-white animus:
And while the attacks are targeting Jews, it may be because black people identify Judaism as “a form of almost hyper-whiteness,” according to Mark Winston Griffith, executive director of the Black Movement Center, a not-for-profit group that promotes communal organizing in the black community in Crown Heights.
In that regard, Griffith said, the attacks may Be an extension of animosity toward white people in general, who drive gentrification in Brooklyn. He added that the attacks are not on the radar of people involved in social justice initiatives in Crown Heights.
I point all of that out not to diminish the real threat to Jewish people, which clearly does exist, but to point out that the cause of the current rise in anti-Semitic attacks may be more complicated than some of the simplistic analysis being offered in the national media.
Here’s a bit of the Spielberg interview.
It’s been 25 years since the release of “Schindler’s List” – and it’s coming back to the big screen.
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) December 5, 2018