Kevin Berk

Did Norman Finkelstein Just Deny the Holocaust?

Dr. Norman Finkelstein on a Zoom Meeting with Labour Against the Witch-Hunt

(Though, before I begin, I would also like to state that this work draws heavily from Lee Harpin’s piece in the Jewish Chronicle, which brought this to my attention. I would suggest a read of that piece as I am only writing this one to bring the story to a greater audience.)

Honestly, at this point, things such as this should not be surprising but somehow Finkelstein always finds a new way to make me sick

Now, to be fair, Dr. Norman Finkelstein did not specifically state that the Shoah never happened. What Finkelstein did was question or excuse others for questioning the number of victims and the means by which they were killed, which according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Association is Anti-Semitism in the form of Holocaust Denial as it is “Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).” This occured when he in this video stated:

  1. In terms of scope: “The question of the numbers. How many were killed. Well, those are statistical, scholarly questions. Why can’t we just answer a number with a number and present our sources?” (1:23:37-1:23:52). Of course, the answer to this is that the question has been studied extensively at this point and it is only Holocaust Denial, now, because that statistic, 5-6 Million, has been supported by several studies, 4.8 Million of which Yad Vashem knows by name.
  2. In terms of mechanisms: “Other people say, if you deny the centrality of the gas chambers… By that standard, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, the author of Hitler’s Willing Executioners, that best selling, um, schmata, um, he’s a Holocaust Denier because he claimed that the core of the Holocaust didn’t occur in the gas chambers. He said it was in the killing fields, uh, that the essence of the Holocaust occured” (1:22:37-1:23:17). This claim is false on several levels. For one, Finkelstein seems to be arguing that Goldhagen either stated that the majority of Jewish deaths in the Shoah did not occur in the gas chambers or that the true “essence” of the Holocaust could only occur in the killing fields and not in the gas chambers. Neither of these claims hold any water. Firstly, Goldhagen has never stated that the majority of Jewish deaths occurred outside the gas chambers (as that would be a major distortion of history). In fact, in an interview, he stated that “40% of the Jews they [Nazis] killed, they killed by means other than gassing,” which correctly states that the gas chambers were the main method of killing. Secondly, Goldhagen never stated that the killing fields were of greater “essence” to the Holocaust than the gas chambers. In the same interview, he clarified that “Had they [Nazis] never developed the gas chambers, they would have continued to kill Jews ― by shooting them or by starving them to death. We don’t know exactly how many Jews would have died that way, but probably about the same number would have been killed.” Here, it can clearly be seen that Goldhagen only states the Nazis would have continued killing Jews in similar numbers, even if the gas chambers had not been devised/used not that the killing fields held some sort of ‘greater meaning’ to killing Jews. As such, Finkelstein’s claim that accuracy in the mechanisms of the Shoah is up for debate is, frankly, disgusting and is dangerous in that it seems to not only push Holocaust Denial but also attempt to defend Holocaust Deniers who deny the gas chambers to lessen the scope/intentionality of the Shoah.

Now, some may be wondering, in what possible situation could Finkelstein have been allowed to make these ahistorical claims and, I’m sad to say, it was in the context of the continuing UK Labour Party’s Anti-Semitism scandal. Basically, this video is the result of a group of Anti-Semites who were expelled from the Labour Party and went on to found the group Labour Against the Witch-Hunt. This group includes a smorgasbord of Left Wing Anti-Semites including:

  • Ken Livingstone: A former Mayor of London who publicly stated it was not Anti-Semitic to hate the Jews of Israel, proclaimed Hitler a Zionist, called himself immune to Anti-Semitism because he had been with -and I am not joking here- two Jewish girlfriends, and -for good measure- constantly denied there was any Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, while spewing Anti-Semitism.
  • Moshé Machover: A mathematician who started his political activism career by questioning why David Ben-Gurion did not try to make peace with Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt who at the time (1956) was publicly proclaiming that “Israel is an artificial state which must disappear” (May 8, 1954) and “there is no sense in talking about peace with Israel. There isn’t even the smallest place for negotiations between the Arabs and Israel” (October 14, 1955).
  • Ken Loach: Another Anti-Semitism in Labour denier who briefly dabbled in Holocaust Denial, himself.
  • And Noam Chomsky: Who did not deny the Holocaust but has denied the Bosnian Genocide because it was perpetrated by a left-wing government.

Basically, a group of people who wouldn’t believe Anti-Semitism is not a threat to Jews but just some minor annoyance that hurts their “freedom of speech.” Honestly, it is quite staggering how this “Labour Against the Witch-Hunt” seem to be pushing the ‘how dare Israeli Jews act like victims’ argument, while proclaiming themselves eternal victims for being ousted from Labour for being racist.

Continuing on, other examples of Finkelstein expressing his “freedom of speech” in the video included:

  • Finkelstein stating, to be fair in a joking way, that he doesn’t “know what a holocaust denier is” (1:22:22-1:22:25).
  • Finkelstein stating that Holocaust Denial is so insignificant that if “you do not like it [Holocaust Denial], don’t read it” (1:20:28-1:20:31) is an acceptable answer.
  • Finkelstein praising Holocaust Denier David Irving by stating “In the case of Irving, he knew a thing or two, actually” (1:20:34-1:20:37).
  • Stating in response to the charge of Deicide (the foundation of Christian Anti-Semitism by proclaiming Jews the killers of Jesus, which has led to countless pogroms and oppressive laws against Jews in Europe) that he doesn’t “really care all that much” (1:18:48-1:18:49) and this foundational hate filled conspiracy theory to the oppression of Jews will not “keep [him] up late at night or exercise [him] when [he gets] up in the morning” (1:18:49-1:18:54).

Honestly, I think the most interesting part of this whole video is just the phenomenal lack of empathy Finkelstein has for any Jews. All I can say is that while this is the most disgusting video I have seen from him, at least he has finally presented just how little he cares about Jewish safety and the rest of the Jewish people.

So, in conclusion, if any Anti-Zionist ever shows his video of him making a descendent of Holocaust survivors cry by pretending she only cares about Jews because of wanting a racist state of Israel, I will respond with this video. I will remind him that two-thousand years of Anti-Semitism resulting in pogroms, rapes, massacres, and ultimately culminating in the Holocaust, doesn’t even “keep [him] up at night.”

About the Author
A Texan filmmaker who, after spending his childhood in a safety locked Synagogue and a Christian Right-Wing anti-Semitic school, went to a liberal college only to be gaslight by left-wing anti-Semites. He is now hoping to make Aaliyah, after learning the tools of representation from the few amazing professors at Emerson College and becoming prideful of his Judaism, he wants to return home.
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