Following the terrorist assault on Israel on October 7 by Hamas, Steven Spielberg has spoken out. “I never imagined I would see such unspeakable barbarity against Jews in my lifetime,” Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg remarked in a press release released by the USC Shoah Foundation, which he established in 1994. His remarks coincide with the group’s ongoing attempts to gather accounts from witnesses and survivors of the Shoah as well as victims of the contemporary Israel-Hamas conflict. “The team at the USC Shoah Foundation are leading an effort that will ensure that the voices of survivors will act as a powerful tool to counter the dangerous rise of antisemitism and hate,” Spielberg said.
The filmmaker stated that “both initiatives … seek to fulfill our promise to survivors: that their stories would be recorded and shared in the effort to preserve history and to work toward a world without antisemitism or hate of any kind. We must remain united and steadfast in these efforts.” The USC Shoah Foundation has conducted interviews with several survivors as a component of the Countering Antisemitism Via Evidence Collection program, a project that records antisemitism that emerged after the genocide. Most recently, the organization met with the wife of director Yahav Winner, who was murdered in the assault on October 7.
Shaylee Atary Winner described how she and her 4-week-old girl fled their house while her husband, the filmmaker, stopped a Hamas terrorist from breaking into their secure room.
Shaylee reported that she and her daughter sought safety in a neighbor’s hideout and got saved over a day afterward, having first taken shelter in a garden shed. However, Shaylee found out afterwards that Yahav had perished in the assault.
“When I was with Shaya in the garden shed, I told myself, ‘Shaylee, think about Holocaust films. What would a mother and a baby do?’ Because this is how it felt,” she stated. “I felt like they are actually running after me and Shaya, like she is prey. … No regular situation in my regular reality could be even close to what we [were going] through.”