Harvey Weinstein, being honored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance, says that in the face of threats from ISIS and other terror groups, it was time for Jewish people to “get as organized as the Mafia” to fight back against anti-Semitism.
“There is a quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s book ‘The Sirens of Titan,’ and it always was the motto of Miramax and now The Weinstein Co., and it says, ‘Good can triumph over evil if the angels are as organized as the Mafia,” Weinstein said to a crowd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Tuesday. “…Unfortunately, we have to get as organized as the mafia. We can’t just take it anymore. We just can’t take these things. There’s got to be a way to fight back.”
He said that Israel showed that “when you fight back you survive and you prosper. And while we must be understanding of our Arab brothers and our Islamic brothers, and we also have to understand that these crazy bastards are also killing their own …like World War II, when we didn’t act right away we paid the price. So we better start acting now.”
Weinstein was the recipient of the Humanitarian Award, presented by actor Christoph Waltz, star of the Weinstein Co. movie “Inglourious Basterds,” who noted that even though industry “folklore” is that Weinstein is a “tough guy,” “I know that he has a heart of gold.” Jeffrey Katzenberg, who emceed the event and was among the dinner cochairs with Ron Meyer and Ted Sarandos, cited work Weinstein has done to address AIDS, juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis and poverty.
Weinstein recounted a visit he made to Jordan last year with his wife, Georgina, a member of the UN Relief Agency, to see the Syrian refugee camps.
“Georgina has a very loving way with children and how they surrounded her,” Weinstein said. “They would sit and tell the stories. This is before any of us had even heard about ISIS, about this group that would take the oldest kids, and bring them into the square and shoot the oldest son or daughter in the square.” Weinstein said that he listened as they told stories of “the way that these people were beat up by these people.” He also noted how resilient the refugees were, as they built a community in their desert camps, with a street they called the “Champs-Elysees.”
Medals of Valor were presented to Kevin Vickers, who as sergeant-at-arms in the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa, shot and killed a terrorist gunman during an attack last year; and Lassana Bathily, an immigrant from Mali and a Muslim, who hid Jewish shoppers in a kosher market during the Paris attacks in November. Honored posthumously were Zidan Seif, a policeman from Israel’s Druze minority who was killed trying to protect a West Jerusalem synagogue from two Palestinian terrorists; and Eduard Schulte, a German industrialist who during World War II crossed the border to Switzerland to warn the allies about German plans for the “final solution.”
“What I did was human nature and instinctive,” Bathily told the gathering. “I didn’t think if they were Jewish, Christian or Muslim.”
Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, announced that the Museum of Tolerance film division, Moriah Films, was partnering with Netflix to make its library available to the streaming service.
(Pictured: Producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Christoph Waltz onstage at the Simon Wiesenthal Center 2015 National Tribute Dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel)