President Barack Obama spoke about the need for “confronting a rising tide of anti-Semitism around the world” in at the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation on Wednesday night, JTA reports. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who created the the Shoah Foundation, presented Obama with the Ambassador for Humanity award at the event, which was emceed by Conan O’Brien.
“We see attacks on Jews in the streets of major Western cities, public places marred by swastikas,” the U.S. leader said. “From some foreign governments we hear the worst kind of anti-Semitic scapegoating.”
The president also spoke out in support of the state of Israel, saying it’s “up to us to speak out against rhetoric that threatens the existence of the Jewish homeland and to sustain America’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.”
The award raised $4 million to help the foundation compile video testimonies of 52,000 Holocaust survivors, liberators, and other witnesses. “The purpose of memory is not simply to preserve the past, it is to protect the future,” Obama said about the video testimonials.
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Hannah Dreyfus is an editorial intern at Tablet.