Whoopi Goldberg is right; so is the ADL

Earlier this year, Whoopi Goldberg said that the Nazi-led genocide known as the Holocaust was “white on white” violence.  Her comments that landed her a two-week suspension from “The View.”  Recently in an interview with Sunday Times of London, she repeated her perspective.

This in turn earned her a fresh rebuke from Anti-Defamation League chief Jonathan Greenblatt, who called her latest remarks “deeply offensive and incredibly ignorant” and said, “She needs to apologize immediately and actually commit to educating herself on the true nature of #antisemitism.”

The thing is, they are both right.

From an African American perspective, what the Nazis perpetrated was white on white violence because in their view most Jews are white—and certainly those in Europe were back in the day. Ironically, many of the Jews then also claimed to be of the same racial stock as their non-Jewish neighbors—which is why what the Nazis did came as such a shock.

But the ADL leader is also right because the Nazis (and lots of others back then) viewed the Jews as belonging to an inferior separate race that warranted first exclusion from German society and then extinction.

In our world today, Jews belong to a variety of so-called races and the view that Jews are a distinct race is one championed only by neo-Nazis and their ilk.  However, for many Jews today, myself included, given our brutal European history, being classified as white like our oppressors  is both offensive and upsetting.

So, yes, Ms. Goldberg might have finetuned her perspective with a little historical knowledge but, at the same time, speaking with her tuchus firmly planted in the present, what occurred back then was white on white genocide.

Now can we please talk about something that is more important?

About the Author
Anson Laytner is a happily retired liberal rabbi whose career focused on building positive interfaith and interethnic relations in the Seattle area. As a volunteer, Laytner is president of the Sino-Judaic Institute and has edited its journal, Points East, for the last 38 years. He is the author of six books, most recently “Choosing Life After Tragedy” and the novel "The Forgotten Commandment." Visit him as his website
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