Shari Redstone, chair of Paramount Global and chair, CEO and president of National Amusements, made a stirring appearance at TheWrap’s Power Women Summit on Tuesday, expressing her anger over the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas and fear for the future while stressing the importance of speaking up.
“The topic I am discussing is so very personal to me and so critical to all of us,” Redstone said in a prepared video statement, noting the “terrifying rise” in “antisemitism, racism, voter suppression and other expressions of hate against embattled communities.”
“Who could have possibly imagined the horrific massacre of innocent Israelis less than two months ago? Children and babies killed, women gang raped and murdered in plain sight, Holocaust survivors kidnapped and entire families gone. And yet, while this atrocity seems beyond human comprehension, I think all of us in this room can comprehend as we mourn the loss of innocent people on both sides of the border, as a result of this horrific attack. Yet, where is the outrage? Why are so many people with power and platforms silent?” Redstone asked.
Redstone said that since Oct. 7 her life “has been turned upside down.”
“From a very early age, I have known about antisemitism and seen it in action. I have studied and learned about the horrors of the Holocaust and have taken my grandchildren to the Jewish quarters throughout Europe to understand the history of the Jews and what happened during World War II,” Redstone said. “But never in my wildest dreams or nightmares did I believe it would affect me personally, that I would fear for my safety and that of my family and friends – fear for the survival of Israel, fear for the survival of the Jewish people and agonize over the future being left for our children and grandchildren and for generations to come. Now, it’s all I think about 24 hours a day. It’s what motivates me from the minute I wake up to the second I go to bed.”
Redstone delivered the next line with a sense of urgency: “The reality is that we have been here before, we know where it leads, and we cannot be silent.”
The executive noted that “Judaism is often referred to as a religion of hope,” but added “hope depends on the actions that each of us takes in our commitment to stand up together against the hate that is so prevalent in our world today.”
Redstone said we must learn the lessons of the past so as not to repeat the same mistakes. “History has shown us what happens when evil takes root and when we sit on the sidelines watching it happen. Today, we are once again at a tipping point. We cannot be silent. We cannot be on notice. Our fractured society will not heal on its own. The choices we make now, individually and collectively, will determine whether or not we will leave our children and grandchildren the world they deserve.”
In closing, Redstone stressed power in numbers.
“I cannot think of a more powerful group of people who happen to all be women than the group assembled here today. We can do this. We can stand up to hate and fight the oppression that so many face based on their religion, race, gender, or sexuality. But we have to do it together.”
For all of TheWrap’s Power Women Summit coverage, click here.