UPDATED with statement: Whoopi Goldberg issued a statement to Deadline today after an interview she did with the Sunday Times of London sparked a strong response from the ADL and other organizations which combat anti-Semitism. In the statement, Goldberg indicates that, in the interview, she was simply recounting what she said earlier this year, not “doubling down on hurtful comments.” She also says plainly that “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.”
Read her full statement below.
Recently while doing press in London, I was asked about my comments from earlier this year. I tried to convey to the reporter what I had said and why, and attempted to recount that time. 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 wasn’t. 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.
PREVIOUSLY: For the second time this year, Whoopi Goldberg has tried to make the argument that the Holocaust wasn’t about race, this time qualifying the contention with the idea that it didn’t start out that way, even if it ended up there. And for the second time this year, the ADL and other groups that combat anti-Semitism corrected her.
In an interview on Saturday with The Sunday Times to promote Tillin which she plays civil rights activist Mamie Till-Mobley’s mother, Goldberg spoke on the topic of race and suggested that there is a debate about whether Jews are a race or religious group.
“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,’” The View host said in the interview, which was published during Hanukkah.
Referring to Goldberg’s comments from January, in which she claimed the Holocaust was “not about race,” the Times interviewer reminded her that the “Nazis saw Jews as a race.”
Goldberg replied, “Yes, but that’s the killer, isn’t it? The oppressor is telling you what you are. Why do you believe them? They’re Nazis. Why believe what they’re saying?”
She continued: “It wasn’t originally [about race]. Remember who they were killing first. They were not killing racially; they were killing physically. They were killing people they considered to be mentally defective. And then they made this decision.”
In response, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote on Twitter:
Whoopi Goldberg’s comments about the Holocaust and race are deeply offensive and incredibly ignorant. When she made similar comments earlier this year, we explained how the Nazi regime was inherently racist.
The Nazis set out to exterminate the Jewish people, whom they viewed as inferior to the mythical ‘Aryan master race.’ They used pseudo-scientific theories of race to justify their anti-Jewish “race laws” and systemic slaughter of millions.
It’s no coincidence that white supremacists in the US today echo the Nazis’ “master race” claim as they spread their antisemitic and racist hate.
Additionally, Whoopi’s comments show a complete lack of awareness of the multiethnic, multiracial makeup of the Jewish community. She needs to apologize immediately and actually commit to educating herself on the true nature of #antisemitism.
Goldberg’s statements to the Times are all the more ironic given that, in her January on-air apology, The View host said that the Holocaust “is indeed about race, because Hitler and the Nazis considered the Jews to be an inferior race. Now, words matter — and mine are no exception. I regret my comments, and I stand corrected. I also stand with the Jewish people.”
As for Goldberg’s timeline about “who they were killing first,” the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum shared a letter that Adolf Hitler wrote in 1919 — fourteen years before the opening of the first concentration camp. In it, Hitler states in clear terms that “Jews are definitely a race,” calling Jewish people an “alien race, unable and unwilling to sacrifice its racial distinctiveness.”
The museum also reminded that “This text is one of the first major statements made by Hitler with regard to the Jewish question.” You can read it below.