Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger said “love in the end always wins” as he collected an award of courage for his long-term advocacy against antisemitism and bigotry.
The Terminator actor, 76, made the comments during the Holocaust Museum’s annual gala in Los Angeles, in which host Melissa Rivers told the audience “October 7 was the deadliest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust” amid the Israel-Hamas war.
Schwarzenegger, the son of a Nazi soldier, said “we have to speak out” from the hatred online – in a nod to the attacks in Israel and Palestine.
“The more we speak out about that issue, the better it is, so every day you have to talk about it… over and over again because we cannot let them get away with these lies and with this hatred”, he said.
“We have to talk to them and talk them down and let them know that the only way to go is through love and not with hatred.
“Hatred will never ever win, love in the end always wins.”
Oscar-nominated film producer Mike Medavoy, who worked with Schwarzenegger on four films including The Terminator during his career, presented the actor with the award cut from cured oak wood in a nod to his bodybuilding nickname The Austrian Oak.
A dozen Second World War Holocaust survivors attended the ceremony, including Joseph Alexander, who turns 101 this month.
Mr Alexander placed a flame in a miner’s lamp in Schwarzenegger’s honour on stage, which was then transported by police escort to the Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles.
During his speech, Schwarzenegger said: “For me to be here today is unbelievable because as you can imagine when you have been Mr Universe five times, Mr World, Mr International…you get a lot of trophies for your muscles – but this is a trophy for my heart.”
The actor also said he has always felt compelled to advocate for equality because “I come from a country who’s known to be a big part in the Second World War and have the most vicious Nazis”.
He continued: “I thought it was important to go out and let people know the next generation doesn’t have to be the same, that the next generation can change.”
The former governor of California also spoke about visiting the site of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.
“It was amazing to be there and see that first hand,” he said.
“I wrote in the book I’ll be back because I will be back there with a whole bunch of Hollywood celebrities so they can see what went on there and put the spotlight on this issue.”