When Whoopi Goldberg asserted on The View that “the Holocaust isn’t about race,” she created a firestorm – and for good reason.
What is most troubling about Goldberg’s assertion is that it is indicative of a far more dangerous narrative that has taken root on the far left and is seeping its way into mainstream liberal discourse. In fact, this process is so insidious that Goldberg might not even be aware she has been infected by these ideas. But her words are evidence enough, and by this point in time, she knows something’s up.
The Jewish-Israeli erasure, a phenomenon identified by the non-partisan policy think tank Reut Institute, is taking root in progressive discourse and is affecting the ways in which Jews and Israel are portrayed. This erasure, which stems from Critical Race Theory, has Jews across the country sounding the alarm. CRT and Jewish erasure limit the ways in which Jews may define themselves by wrongly racializing us and our history: Jews are now white, privileged, and oppressive. Israel is white, supremacist, and colonial. This discourse reconstructs Jewish history in a manner that conforms to modern progressive narratives but conflicts with documented history.
When viewed through this skewed lens of the Jewish-Israeli erasure, Goldberg’s assertion makes sense. In progressive discourse, Judaism is reduced to just a religion observed by Jews who enjoy all the privileges of the white majority. In reality, Jewish peoplehood – which has always been central to Judaism – involves far more than just religion. Jews are uniquely connected to a land, to a language, and to a shared history. Erase all of that and what remains could be characterized in progressive discourse as a supremacist religion practiced by white people.
Modern progressive narratives also portray early 20th century European Jews as white and privileged in contrast to the mountain of evidence that Hitler planned a master Aryan race and characterized German Jews as a “race-tuberculosis of the peoples” that should be cleansed by way of a Final Solution. The progressive narrative, as expressed by Goldberg, casts the Holocaust simply and ignorantly as white people killing other white people and not about race.
Having been born in the former Soviet Union, a region notorious for its antisemitic prejudice where Jews were treated as a separate and inferior race, my Soviet birth certificate does not identify my nationality as Russian but rather states “Jewish”. I was not considered Russian. I was simply “a Jew”. The pogroms my ancestors faced and the life my parents and I endured at the hands of the Soviets were not the consequences of white-on-white hate but rather the blatant categorization of Jews being an inferior race.
Ignorance is not necessarily malice and Goldberg was likely thinking she’s supporting racial justice when she said what she said. When in fact, she was pushing a problematic and inherently antisemitic narrative that erases Jewish identity. To Goldberg, after years of indoctrination, race is determined solely by the color of one’s skin; or, according to her words, based on what she can see. To her, and to many others swallowing the same repeated propaganda, Jews are too white to be considered a minority that needs support, too white to have been slaughtered en masse because of their race, and too white to be victims of antisemitism when not committed by a white supremacist.
In fact, Goldberg’s reduction of race to only what one can see creates a problem for most genocides. Was the Armenian genocide also simply a white-on-white slaughter? Or, what about the Hutu slaughter of Tutsis in Rwanda?
All Jews, anywhere on the political spectrum, have a vested interest in thwarting the advance of this flawed worldview. Jews must retain the right to define what it means to be Jewish, what antisemitism is, and to maintain a truthful record of our history. All Jews, and our allies, should work to ensure Jewish erasure finds no quarters in mainstream discourse, lest world history be turned on its head by those seeking to advance a particularly evil narrative.
Whoopi Goldberg is just the latest victim and perhaps the most public messenger and sadly won’t be the last. That’s why Goldberg should be encouraged to spend a day at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, meet with Holocaust survivors, and examine the relationship between CRT and antisemitism. Perhaps her future message will help us address this problem rather than exacerbate it.