Whoopi Goldberg on Tuesday insisted she was not “doubling down” on claiming that the Holocaust was not linked to race, after recently repeating the assertion in an interview.
Speaking with the Sunday Times of London, the US actress and producer said the Nazi-orchestrated genocide was “white on white” violence, echoing comments that landed her a two-week suspension from “The View” earlier this year.
“Remember who they were killing first. They were not killing racial; they were killing physical. They were killing people they considered to be mentally defective. And then they made this decision,” she said over the weekend.
She also appeared to dismiss the reaction to her past remarks as overblown. “You would have thought that I’d taken a big old stinky dump on the table, butt naked,” Goldberg said.
But in a statement Tuesday to the Hollywood reporter, Goldberg said she was only trying 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,” she said, particularly 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,” Goldberg continued. “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.”
The statement came after Goldberg was denounced by Anti-Defamation League chief Jonathan Greenblatt, who called her latest remarks “deeply offensive and incredibly ignorant.”
“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,” he wrote on Twitter.
Greenblatt added: “She needs to apologize immediately and actually commit to educating herself on the true nature of #antisemitism.”
The interview with the Sunday Times came as Goldberg promotes her new film, “Till,” in which she plays the mother of civil rights activist Mamie Till-Mobley. The movie tells the true story of Till-Mobley’s quest for justice after her son, 14-year-old Emmett Till, was lynched by white supremacists in Mississippi in 1955.
Goldberg was criticized when she claimed that “the Holocaust isn’t about race,” but rather about “man’s inhumanity to man,” during a discussion with co-hosts on “The View” in January.
“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.”
Jewish leaders had slammed her initial statement, noting that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had referred to Jews as an inferior race. Goldberg apologized online the night she made the remark, and on the next day’s show.
However, ABC News President Kim Godwin told her to sit out for two weeks.
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.