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'I stand corrected... I'm sorry for the hurt I have caused'

Whoopi Goldberg causes uproar, saying ‘Holocaust isn’t about race’; apologizes

During discussion on ‘The View,’ actress says Nazis and Jews ‘are two white groups of people’; co-hosts point out that Nazis clearly regarded Jews as being a different race

Actress Whoopi Goldberg speaks during the opening of the "Planet or Plastic?" exhibit, Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Actress Whoopi Goldberg speaks during the opening of the "Planet or Plastic?" exhibit, Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

In an exchange on Monday with her co-hosts on “The View” that sparked an uproar, actress and producer Whoopi Goldberg claimed that “the Holocaust isn’t about race,” but rather about “man’s inhumanity to man.”

The panel was discussing a Tennessee school board’s removal of the Holocaust book “Maus” from its curriculum earlier this month. All five co-hosts opposed the board’s decision, saying that the acclaimed graphic memoir should be taught in classrooms; but Goldberg differed strongly from her colleagues on the question of exactly why the Holocaust should be taught to students.

“If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it,” Goldberg said, before elaborating that “these [Jews and Nazis] are two white groups of people.”

Co-host Joy Behar objected, arguing that Nazis “considered Jews a different race.” Guest co-host Ana Navarro asserted that “it’s about white supremacy, it’s about going after Jews and Gypsies.” But Goldberg continued to speak.

“The minute you turn it into race, you go down this alley,” she continued, as the show’s producers began playing music as a cue to cut to commercials.

Goldberg’s comments sparked an outcry on the internet.

She later apologized.

Goldberg’s comments come amid a larger nationwide reckoning on Holocaust and race education, as many conservative activists have fought to restrict the teaching of race-related topics in schools, while some American Jews have expressed discomfort around identifying themselves as simply “white.”

In his writings and speeches that would ultimately come to articulate his mass-extermination plans, Adolf Hitler repeatedly referred to Jews as a race rather than a religious group.

Her comments caused outrage online.

The Auschwitz Museum tweeted her a link to an online course on the Holocaust.

“Shame on Whoopi Goldberg, apparently she could use some education on the Holocaust,” tweeted Ellie Cohanim a former US Deputy Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism.  “Hitler’s entire propaganda machine spewed the message that Jews were an inferior race to Germans who were a pure “Aryan race.” And then they murdered six million Jews based on this belief.”

Israel’s Consul General in New York Asaf Zamir invited Goldberg to join him on a tour of New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage “to learn more about the Holocaust and antisemitism”

Several people called on her to retire.

ABC had no comment on the incident.

Late Monday, Goldberg apologized.

“On today’s show, I said the Holocaust ‘is not about race, but about man’s inhumanity to man.’ I should have said it is about both,” she tweeted.

“As Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti-Defamation League shared, ‘The Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people — who they deemed to be an inferior race.’ I stand corrected,” she said.

“The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never waiver. I’m sorry for the hurt I have caused.”

Goldberg, born Caryn Elaine Johnson, has no Jewish ancestry, but adopted her stage name to be deliberately Jewish-sounding, in part because she has said she personally identifies with Judaism. She told a London audience in 2016, “I just know I am Jewish. I practice nothing. I don’t go to temple, but I do remember the holidays.” In 2016, she designed a Hanukkah sweater for Lord & Taylor.

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