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October 20, 2019 6:05 pm

Director Steven Spielberg Recalls Antisemitic Bullying He Faced in School: ‘It Made Me Feel Ashamed of Being Jewish’

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Steven Spielberg. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg was the target of antisemitic bullying in school as a youngster, the Hollywood heavyweight revealed in a recent interview.

The result, he admitted, was that he was left feeling ashamed of his Jewish identity.

“I encountered antisemitism as an elementary school student in my school, and not throughout the entire school but small parts of popular kids they would pick on less popular kids, in my case zero popularity, growing up,” Spielberg said. “I didn’t think of it as hate but thought of it as a shame. I was ashamed of a lot of things and they actually managed with enough chiding and bullying to make me actually feel ashamed of being Jewish.”

He added, “I felt pretty much like an outcast and when I got older, I realized bullying is a very pervasive tool to make other people feel like they are empowered. So, I was on the other receiving end of people’s power trips and that was my main experience with being hated, something that I had no control over and something that inside me, I have always been very proud of to be a Jewish.”

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Spielberg is the co-executive producer of a new six-part series called “Why We Hate,” which premiered Sunday on the Discovery Channel. The series examines hatred and how we can fight it and shares personal stories of those who hate and are targeted by hate. The series argues that hate is part of human nature and is in our DNA.

“This has been a subject that has been very close to me personally and a subject that seems to be even more relevant today compared to even 10 years ago,” Spielberg explained to CBS News. “I think hate is the constant abnormal.” He also told the news station that he was bullied as a high school student for some time.

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