Whoopi Goldberg: what did The View host say about the Holocaust, is she Jewish, and Twitter apology explained

While the Sister Act star apologised for her comments, it has since been announced that she has been suspended from The View for two weeks

Whoopi Goldberg, known for her roles in films like The Colour Purple, Ghost and Sister Act, has issued an apology after sparking outrage over comments made about the Holocaust on the most recent episode of The View.

This is everything you need to know about the situation.

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What did she say about the Holocaust?

During an episode of The View, of which Goldberg is one of multiple co-hosts, she said that the Holocaust was not “about race”.

She made the comments when the discussion turned to a Tennessee school board’s decision to ban the Pulitzer prize winning graphic novel Maus, in which cartoonist Art Spiegelman interviews his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor.

During the discussion, Goldberg said: “Let’s be truthful, the Holocaust isn’t about race, it’s not.”

When her co-host Joy Behar said that the Nazis considered Jews a different race, Goldberg replied: “But it’s not about race. It’s about man’s inhumanity to man, that’s what it’s about.”

Her comments about the Holocaust came about during a discussion about the graphic novel Maus (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue )

Fellow co-host Ana Navarro added: “But it’s about white supremacy. It’s about going after Jews and Gypsies and Roman.”

“These are two groups of white people,” Goldberg countered, to which co-host Sara Haines said that the Nazis “didn’t see them as white”.

Goldberg continued: “But you’re missing the point! The minute you turn it into race, it goes down this alley. Let’s talk about it for what it is. It’s how people treat each other. It’s a problem.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, Jews… everybody eats each other.”

What was the response like?

Goldberg drew significant backlash for her description of the Holocaust, with many calling the comedian out online.

Stop Antisemitism on Twitter wrote: “Newsflash @WhoopiGoldberg 6 million of us were gassed, starved and massacred because we were deemed an inferior race by the Nazis. How dare you minimize our trauma and suffering!”

Jonathan Greenblatt, from the Anti Defamation League, tweeted: “No @WhoopiGoldberg, the #Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people - who they deemed to be an inferior race.

“They dehumanized them and used this racist propaganda to justify slaughtering 6 million Jews. Holocaust distortion is dangerous. #ENOUGH.”

While the US Holocaust Museum didn’t specifically name Goldberg in its tweet, it appeared to respond to her comment, writing on Twitter: “Racism was central to Nazi ideology. Jews were not defined by religion, but by race. Nazi racist beliefs fueled genocide and mass murder.”

Has she apologised?

Following the outrage sparked by her comments, Goldberg offered her “sincerest apologies” over the remark.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Goldberg wrote: “On today’s show I said the Holocaust “is not about race, but about man’s inhumanity to man”. I should have said it was about both.

“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.

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

“Written with my sincerest apologies, Whoopi Goldberg.”

For most, the apology was well received, with Greenblatt quote tweeting Goldberg’s post, and adding: “Thanks @WhoopiGoldberg for correcting your prior statement and acknowledging the #Holocaust for what it was. As #antisemitism surges to historic levels, I hope we can work together to combat ignorance of that horrific crime and the hate that threatens all.”

Rabbi Shmuley tweeted: “Glad @WhoopiGoldberg apologized for her revisionist remarks on the Holocaust. I know her. She’s a good person and she’s a friend of the Jewish community. This was a mistake and she apologized and Judaism is all about forgiveness. Once a person apologizes you don’t browbeat them.”

Stop Antisemitism replied directly to Goldberg’s apology, and called for her to do more.

The organisation wrote: “No you don’t get any easy out on Twitter. Millions of viewers witnessed your Holocaust revisionism today. Please apologize and correct this horrific distortion tomorrow ON AIR.

“In addition bring actual Holocaust survivors to speak in order to make this a truly teachable moment.”

Has she been suspended?

As a result of her comments made on The View, Goldberg has been suspended from the show for two weeks.

Kim Godwin, President of ABC News, said that she has asked Goldberg to take time to “reflect and learn about the impact of her comments”.

In a statement posted online on Tuesday, Godwin said: “Effective immediately I am suspending Whoopi Goldberg for two weeks following her wrong and hurtful comments.

“While Whoopi has apologised, I have asked her to take time to reflect and learn about the impact of her comments.

“The entire ABC News organisation stands in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues, friends, family and communities.”

Is Whoopi Goldberg Jewish?

Speaking to the Jewish Chronicle in 2016, Goldberg said: “I just know I am Jewish. I practise nothing. I don’t go to temple, but I do remember the holidays.

“Religion is a lot of work, it’s exhausting. So I keep it simple, I have a pretty good relationship with god. We talk.”

Whoopi Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson (Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for National Board of Review)

Goldberg, who was born Caryn Elaine Johnson, has explained that her stage name Whoopi comes from the fact that people used to compare her to a whoopee cushion.

The name Goldberg reportedly came from the fact that her mother thought her name was “not Jewish enough” for her to become famous.

She told the Jewish Chronicle: “My mother did not name me Whoopi, but Goldberg is my name, it’s part of my family, part of my heritage. Just like being black.”

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