Whoopi Goldberg apologized Tuesday after once again making eyebrow-raising comments about the Holocaust that generated intense backlash.
This is not the first time Goldberg faced criticism for controversial remarks about the Holocaust. In February, Goldberg was temporarily suspended from “The View” after she declared the Holocaust was “not about race.”
What did Goldberg say?
In an interview with the Times of London, Goldberg downplayed the racial component of the Holocaust. First, she relayed an anecdote from an alleged Jewish friend.
“My best friend said, ‘Not for nothing is there no box on the census for the Jewish race. So that leads me to believe that we’re probably not a race,'” Goldberg told the newspaper.
When challenged on her claims, Goldberg then insisted that the Holocaust was not “originally” about the Jewish race and appeared to criticize Jews for having believed what Nazis, whom she called “the oppressor,” told Jews about themselves.
“Remember who they were killing first. They were not killing racial; they were killing physical,” Goldberg claimed. “They were killing people they considered to be mentally defective. And then they made this decision.”
Goldberg doubled down when the reporter interviewing her then reminded her the Nazi regime develop tests to “prove” Jewish ancestry.
“They did that to black people too,” Goldberg responded. “But it doesn’t change the fact that you could not tell a Jew on a street. You could find me. You couldn’t find them.”
What was the response?
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, sharply condemned Goldberg’s “deeply offensive and incredibly ignorant” remarks in a statement on Tuesday.
“Whoopi Goldberg’s comments about the Holocaust and race are deeply offensive and incredibly disappointing, especially given that this is not the first time she had made remarks like this,” Greenblatt said. “In a moment when anti-Semitic incidents have surged across the U.S., she should realize that making such ignorant statements can have real consequences.”
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, meanwhile, responded by tweeting a passage from a letter that Adolf Hitler wrote in 1919. In that letter, Hitler declared that “Jews are definitely a race,” condemning them as an “alien race, unable and unwilling to sacrifice its racial distinctiveness.”
— Auschwitz Memorial (@Auschwitz Memorial)
Did Goldberg apologize?
Goldberg claimed in a statement on Tuesday that her words were essentially taken out of context, saying she was only recounting the comments that earned her a suspension — not doubling down on them.
The statement said, according to Rolling Stone:
It was never my intention to appear as if I was doubling down on hurtful comments, especially after talking with and hearing people like rabbis and old and new friends weighing in. I’m still learning a lot and believe me, I heard everything everyone said to me. I believe that the Holocaust was about race, and I am still as sorry now as I was then that I upset, hurt and angered people.
My sincere apologies again, especially to everyone who thought this was a fresh rehash of the subject. I promise it was not. In this time of rising antisemitism, I want to be very clear when I say that I always stood with the Jewish people and always will. My support for them has not wavered and never will.
Greenblatt, however, did not buy the excuse.
“We appreciate Whoopi’s apology and acknowledgment of the hurt her words caused,” he responded. “But this is the 2nd time she’s made spurious and offensive remarks about the Holocaust and race, and after reading @thetimes interview, it’s hard to imagine her words were being taken out of context.”
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@Jonathan Greenblatt)