- Top Hollywood producer and director
- Raised millions of dollars for Democrat candidates
- Presented with the Human Rights Campaign's "National Equality Award" for his support of "hate crimes" legislation
- Traveled to Cuba and declared that "I feel so much at home here." and described his time with Castro as "the eight most important hours of my life."
- Pro-Palestinian and Anti-Israel
One of the most influential people in the entertainment industry, Steven Spielberg is an “A-list” movie director and producer. The winner of three Academy Awards, he has directed some of the highest-grossing films of all time.
Born in December 1946, Spielberg began making movies at the age of 12. By the time he was 19, he had produced at least eight amateur works. In 1965 he enrolled at California State College (now California State University) to pursue a degree in film studies. He dropped out in 1969, however, to begin directing professionally. (More than three decades later, he would return to Long Beach to complete his studies, and he officially earned his bachelor's degree in 2002.)
As a professional, Spielberg's directorial credits include blockbusters such as Jaws (1975); Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977); Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981); E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982); The Color Purple (1985); Jurassic Park (1993); Schindler's List (1993); Saving Private Ryan (1998); and Munich (2005).
In 1994 Spielberg teamed up with fellow Hollywood moguls Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen to create the movie studio Dreamworks SKG.
That same year, Spielberg established the Righteous Persons Foundation (RPF) with profits he had earned from Schindler's List. Notable recipients of RPF philanthropy include the Tides Center, the Tides Foundation, People for the American Way, Human Rights Watch, the New Israel Fund, the Jewish Fund for Justice, the Progressive Jewish Alliance, and the Joshua Venture. (RPF's Executive Director is Margery Tabankin, a former New Leftist.)
Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, have donated generously to Democrat political figures over the years. They developed a personal friendship with Bill Clinton, during whose presidency they gave more than $400,000 to the Democratic National Committee, thereby earning themselves an overnight stay at the White House.
In 2000 Spielberg helped raise some $4 million from Hollywood's entertainment community for the Democratic Party and its candidates. Spielberg himself contributed $220,000 to the cause. That same year, Spielberg's wife donated $16,000 to U.S. Senate candidate Hillary Clinton.
Also in 2000, Spielberg was presented with the Human Rights Campaign's "National Equality Award" for his support of "hate crimes" legislation, and for having resigned from the Boy Scouts of America's advisory board because of that organization's policies barring homosexuals from membership and from leadership positions.
In November 2002, Spielberg went to Cuba to attend a festival celebrating his body of work in the film industry. A strong opponent of the U.S. embargo against on Cuba, he told a crowd of cheering onlookers that Cubans were "exploding with passion and talent and self-respect.... I feel so much at home here. I hope to come back many times in the future." Adding that he could not understand why the U.S. conducts trade with North Korea and China but not with Cuba, he called for the Bush administration to "wipe the slate clean."
During his stay in Cuba, Spielberg met for eight hours with dictator Fidel Castro. The two talked amicably about environmental issues, politics, history, and the trade embargo. Afterward, the filmmaker described his time with Castro as "the eight most important hours of my life." While in Cuba, Spielberg also visited the country's largest synagogue. (Notably, Cuba's Jewish community had dwindled by 90 percent -- from 15,000 to 1,500 -- since Castro's rise to power.)
While Spielberg in 2002 was promoting his film Minority Report (a story about three psychics who are able to foresee crimes and to arrest the would-be perpetrators premptively before harm is done), he spoke to reporters about his views on the U.S. government's post-9/11 anti-terrorism strategies:
"I am willing to give up some of my personal freedoms in order to stop 9/11 from ever happening again. But the question is, Where do you draw the line?... Right now, people are willing to give away a lot of their freedoms in order to feel safe. They're willing to give the FBI and the CIA far-reaching powers to, as George W. Bush often says, root out those individuals who are a danger to our way of living. I am on the president's side in this instance. But how much freedom are you willing to give up? That is what my movie is about."
In August 2004 Spielberg helped Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry make a "promotional" video montage consisting of 1970s film footage from Kerry's military tour of duty in the Vietnam War. According to a campaign source, Spielberg also advised Kerry on how to make himself more likeable to the American public, encouraging the candidate to "smile more" and to tone down his "academic" speaking style. In addition, Spielberg sent Kerry a number of John Wayne movies wherein the famed actor used strategic pauses to give his words greater emphasis.
In December 2005 Spielberg released Munich, a film about the aftermath of the kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympic Games. Columnist Charles Krauthammer offered the following criticism of the manner in which Spielberg had presented the movie's major characters:
"The Palestinians who plan the massacre and are hunted down by Israel are given ... texture, humanity, depth, history. The first Palestinian we meet is the erudite translator of poetry giving a public reading, then acting kindly toward an Italian shopkeeper — before he is shot in cold blood by Jews.
"Then there is the elderly PLO member who dotes on his 7-year-old daughter before being blown to bits. Not one of these plotters is ever shown plotting Munich, or any other atrocity for that matter. They are shown in the full flower of their humanity, savagely extinguished by Jews....
"Even more egregious than the manipulation by character is the propaganda by dialogue. The Palestinian case is made forthrightly: The Jews stole our land and we're going to kill any Israeli we can to get it back. Those who are supposedly making the Israeli case say ... the same thing....
"Spielberg makes the Holocaust the engine of Zionism and its justification. Which, of course, is the Palestinian narrative.... If Israel is nothing more than Europe's guilt trip for the Holocaust, then why should Muslims have to suffer a Jewish state in their midst?"
During the 2008 presidential election season, Spielberg took an active role in supporting the candidates of his preference. In February 2008, he collaborated with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen to organize an exclusive Beverly Hills fundraiser for Senator Barack Obama. Among those attending the event were Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Ben Stiller, George Clooney, Eddie Murphy, and Barbra Streisand. Tickets cost $2,300 apiece, the maximum individual donation to a federal political campaign. Obama reportedly netted $1 million from the one-night affair.
Notwithstanding the role he had played in organizing Obama's event, Spielberg in June 2008 officially endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton as his candidate of choice. Said Spielberg: “I've taken the time to familiarize myself with the impressive field of Democratic candidates and am convinced that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate to lead us from her first day in the White House.”
According to Forbes magazine, Spielberg has a net worth of approximately $3 billion. From 1984 to 2008, he made $928,823 in political contributions to various candidates and causes -- $869,173 to Democrats, $55,650 to special-interest groups, and $4,000 to Republicans. Beneficiaries of his funding included such notables as Barbara Boxer, Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin, Patrick Leahy, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Richard Durbin, Tom Lantos, Barack Obama, Sherrod Brown, John Edwards, Carl Levin, Rahm Emanuel, Frank Lautenberg, Bill Richardson, Charles Schumer, Tom Lantos, Walter Mondale, Robert Kerrey, Diane Feinstein, and Michael Dukakis.
Spielberg also has made large donations to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, HillPAC, Voters for Choice/Friends of Family Planning, the Democratic National Committee Services Corporation, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Progressive Politics Network.