Whoopi Goldberg Suspended From ABC Over Holocaust Race Remarks

Goldberg's suspension comes a day after a comment during a discussion on 'The View' that the Holocaust 'was not about race'

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Whoopi Goldberg speaks at the White House in Washington, November 2015.
Whoopi Goldberg speaks at the White House in Washington, November 2015.Credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

Whoopi Goldberg has been suspended for two weeks as co-host of “The View” because of what the head of ABC News called her “wrong and hurtful comments” about Jews and the Holocaust.

“While Whoopi has apologized, I’ve asked her to take time to reflect and learn about the impact of her comments. The entire ABC News organization stands in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues, friends, family and communities,” ABC News President Kim Godwin said in a statement posted Tuesday on Twitter.

The suspension came a day after Goldberg's comment during a discussion on “The View” that race was not a factor in the Holocaust. Goldberg apologized hours later and again on Tuesday's morning episode, but the original remark drew condemnation from several prominent Jewish leaders.

“My words upset so many people, which was never my intention,” she said Tuesday morning. “I understand why now and for that I am deeply, deeply grateful because the information I got was really helpful and helped me understand some different things.”

Whoopi Goldberg expressed regret Tuesday for saying on “The View” a day earlier that race was not a factor in the Holocaust, saying she was “deeply, deeply grateful” for getting an education on the topic.

The flare-up over Goldberg's remarks this week highlighted the enduring complexity of some race-related issues, including the widespread but strongly contested notion that only people of color can be victims of racism.

That appeared to be at the root of original comments by Goldberg, who is Black. On Monday's episode of “The View,” she said the Holocaust was “not about race ... it's about man's inhumanity to other man.” Panelists on the show had been talking about a Tennessee school board's banning of “Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Nazi death campsduring World War II.

“The View” brought on Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and author of “It Could Happen Here,” on Tuesday to discuss why her words had been hurtful. “Jewish people at the moment are feeling besieged," Greenblatt said.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, praised Goldberg for being outspoken over the years on social issues but said he struggled to understand her statement on the Holocaust.

“The only explanation that I have for it is that there is a new definition of racism that has been put out there in the public recently that defines racism exclusively as the targeting of people of color. And obviously history teaches us otherwise,” Cooper said.

“Everything about Nazi Germany and about the targeting of the Jews and about the Holocaust was about race and racism. That’s the unfortunate, unassailable historic fact,” he said.

Kenneth L. Marcus, chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, linked Goldberg’s remarks to broader misconceptions of the Holocaust, Jewish identity and antisemitism.

“In her error, she was reflecting a misunderstanding of Jewish identity that is both widespread and dangerous that is sometimes described as erasive antisemitism,” said Marcus, who is the author of ‘The Definition of Anti-Semitism.’

“It is the notion that Jews should be viewed only as being white, privileged oppressors,” he said. “It denies Jewish identity and involves a whitewashing of Jewish history.”

Marcus referred to the use of anti-Jewish stereotypes “about being powerful, controlling and sinister,” coupled with downplaying or denying antisemitism.

Goldberg’s apology came via Twitter on Monday night, where she said she was sorry for the hurt that she caused, was welcomed by Jewish leaders in the U.S., and the chairman of Israel’s national Holocaust memorial invited her for an educational visit.

Goldberg’s “apology and clarification are important,” said Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan, who invited her to the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem to “learn more about the causes, events and aftermath of the Holocaust.”

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