NEW YORK — Whoopi Goldberg on Tuesday regretted telling ‘The View’ television show that race was not a factor in the Holocaust, saying she was “deeply, deeply grateful” to have received an education on the subject.
The flare-up sparked by Ms. Goldberg’s comments this week underscored the continuing complexity of some issues surrounding racism, including the widespread, but hotly contested, notion that only people of color can be victimized.
This seemed to be the origin of the original comments from Whoopi Goldberg, who is black. In Monday’s episode of TV show ‘The View’, she said the Holocaust was ‘not about race (…) it is about man’s inhumanity to a another man”. The show’s panelists had spoken about a Tennessee school board’s banning of “Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Nazi death camps during World War II.
“My words upset so many people, which was never my intention,” Ms. Goldberg said. I now understand why and for that I am deeply, deeply grateful because the information I got was really helpful and helped me understand different things.”
“The View” appealed to Anti-Defamation League President and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt on Tuesday to explain why those words were hurtful.
“Jews currently feel beleaguered,” Mr. Greenblatt said.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, praised Ms Goldberg for her outspokenness over the years on social issues, but said he struggled to understand her statement on the Holocaust.
“The only explanation I have for this is that there is a new definition of racism that was recently released to the public that defines racism exclusively as the targeting of people of color. And of course, history teaches us otherwise,” said Cooper.
“Everything about Nazi Germany, the targeting of Jews and the Holocaust was aimed at race and racism. This is the unfortunate and unassailable historical fact,” he said.
Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law President Kenneth L. Marcus linked Whoopi Goldberg’s remarks to broader misconceptions about the Holocaust, Jewish identity and anti-Semitism.
“In its error, it reflected a widespread and dangerous misunderstanding of Jewish identity, sometimes described as erasable anti-Semitism,” Mr. Marcus said.
“It’s the idea that Jews should only be seen as white, privileged oppressors,” he said. It denies Jewish identity and involves a whitewashing of Jewish history.”
Mr Marcus referred to the use of anti-Jewish stereotypes “about being powerful, controlling and sinister”, associated with downplaying or denying anti-Semitism.
In Israel, being Jewish is rarely viewed in racial terms, in part because of the country’s great diversity. The Jewish population, which makes up around 80% of the total population, includes Jews from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as recent immigrants from places such as the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia.
Yet Jewish identity goes far beyond religion. Israelis generally refer to the “Jewish people” or the “Jewish nation”, describing a group or civilization bound by a common history, culture, language and traditions and deep ties to Jewish communities overseas. Wed.
Whoopi Goldberg’s apology via Twitter on Monday evening, where she said she was sorry for the hurt she caused, was welcomed by Jewish leaders in the United States, and the chairman of Israel’s National Memorial of Israel. ‘Holocaust invited her for an educational visit.
“Ms. Goldberg’s apologies and clarifications are important,” said Yad Vashem President Dani Dayan, who invited her to the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem to “learn more about the causes, the events and consequences of the Holocaust”. Her statement mentioned that Ms. Goldberg’s original comments indicated “a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the Holocaust and of anti-Semitism.”
On Monday on “The View,” Whoopi Goldberg expressed surprise that some Tennessee school board members weren’t comfortable with nudity in “Maus.”
“I mean, it’s about the Holocaust, the murder of 6 million people, but didn’t you mind? said Ms. Goldberg. If you’re going to do this, then let’s be honest about it. Because the Holocaust is not about race. No, it’s not a question of race.
She continued on this line despite the refusal of some of her fellow panelists.
The US Holocaust Museum in Washington responded to Ms Goldberg with a tweet.
“Racism was at the heart of Nazi ideology. The Jews were not defined by religion, but by race. Nazi racist beliefs fueled genocide and mass murder,” he said.
That tweet also included a link to the museum’s online encyclopedia, which said the Nazis attributed negative stereotypes about Jews to biologically determined racial heritage.
On Twitter, there were several calls for the dismissal of Ms Goldberg, who seemed caught up in the usual debates between left and right. There was no immediate comment from ABC News, which carries “The View.”
Mr Greenblatt suggested the talk show, searching for a new co-host after Meghan McCain left last summer, should consider hiring a Jewish woman to keep the issue of anti-Semitism at the fore plan.
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Whoopi Goldberg regrets saying the Holocaust wasn’t race-related