Whoopi Goldberg, the Holocaust, and Education

“The View” 25 Promo/Photo shoot - 8/6/21. “The View” Season 25 with Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sara Haines and Sunny Hostin premieres Tuesday, September 7, 2021 on ABC. “The View” airs Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-12 noon, ET, on ABC. (ABC/Robert Ascroft)

Instead of suspending Whoopi Goldberg from The View, ABC would have done better to encourage more Holocaust education in programming.

The thing that comes with being a Jewish critic means always having to chime in when a celebrity makes antisemitic comments or denies/distorts the Holocaust. Here I am once again finding myself writing about Whoopi Goldberg. Personally, I felt her apology on Tuesday’s episode of The View was satisfactory. It felt like she had shown remorse and was willing to grow from this experience. Last night, we learned that ABC was suspending her for two weeks. Personally, this isn’t necessary. The first step was bringing on ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and going from there.

We know that Yad Vashem has reached out to Goldberg. I’m hoping that the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has also done the same. There are plenty of Holocaust educators that have also made comments on social media. But what crosses the line for me is when right-wingers call for Goldberg to be fired while giving a free pass to the likes of Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Listen, I can understand being upset with Whoopi Goldberg. But to say nothing of Ron DeSantis and his comments in the aftermath of two Nazi rallies in Florida? I’m sorry but you cannot call out left-wing antisemitism (or in this case Holocaust distortion) while giving a free pass to right-wing antisemitism. Carlson has peddled so many antisemitic white nationalist conspiracies that it is no longer funny.

I know right-wing antisemitism when I see it. What scares me the most is left-wing antisemitism. These are people that are supposed to be allies, right? I should not see shirts for sale in left-wing spaces saying that Zionism should be stopped. This is antisemitism! When transgender spaces are not welcoming Jews, this is antisemitism. It needs to be called out. Do better!

Zionism is Jewish self-determination–denying Jews this right is antisemitism. When people make claims that the State of Israel is a racist endeavor, this is antisemitism. When people apply double standards to Israel and don’t bother applying the same standards to other countries, this is antisemitism. It’s no surprise that every major Jewish organization signed onto condemn Amnesty’s one-sided paper this week. But it’s one-sided antisemitic papers like this that only lead to an increase in Jew-hatred. The IHRA working definition is here.

Last year was the most antisemitic year in a decade with an average of ten incidents per day. The month of January felt almost as bad as all of 2021. When you come back online on Saturday night to learn of an antisemitic terrorist attack, it’s anxiety-inducing. Worst of all, the non-Jews in my circle were silent. Nobody reached out to me to see how I was doing. That it happened during the weekend before Sundance was not good for my headspace. You know my headspace is bad when I’m turning to disaster movies.

During Sundance, there was much to be said about Maus being removed from a school’s curriculum in Tennessee. I’m of two minds about this: one, it shouldn’t be removed but two, why is it that it took a book to get people talking about Jews/Holocaust. Where were they over a week and a half earlier when many of us had heightened anxiety? The same people calling out the banning should have been just as angry about the terrorist attack. However, they were silent. It is this silence that I find scary. I’m already seeing Jews leaving Europe en mass for Israel. At what point do I need to consider packing my bags and making Aliyah? I’m looking at 2021 and January 2022 and beginning to think that the time is sooner than later. We’ve seen all of this in the past. How late is too late? This is the question.

Everyone could take a moment to grow and learn from this week. It starts with Holocaust education. It needs to be required in all 50 states. According to the USHMM, Holocaust education is currently required in 22 states. This is not good enough. It isn’t even half of the United States! Liberation75 released the results of a survey that they conducted with 3,593 teens in North America, almost 80% of which were Canadian.

What students know about Jews and antisemitism:

  • 69.28% of students understand that Jews are defined as belonging to an ethno-religious group.
  • 53.98% of students understand that antisemitism is hatred that is directed toward the Jewish people

Here’s the part that certainly needs to improve:

  • 32.90% of students don’t know what to think about the Holocaust, think the number of Jews who died has been exaggerated, or question whether the Holocaust even happened.

In states where Holocaust education is a requirement, students are more likely to believe Jews experience antisemitism. They also more likely to think that such an atrocity could happen again. This is where I have to say: look at the uptick in antisemitism. Look at how bad it is to be Jewish in Europe.

When it comes to the Holocaust, I recommended a number of films on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Most recently, a film I recommend the most when it comes to learning about the history of antisemitism is Antisemitism. It is currently available to stream on Ovid. What worries me is that a smaller streaming service means it won’t be seen by many eyeballs. Regardless, I’m going to be talking it up all year. Another film that serves as a basic primer for Holocaust education is an Oscar-winning documentary, Genocide. If reading is your thing, the ADL has a handy guide available.

When people discuss race, they tend to view it through skin color but it’s not so simple. You can’t just fit Jews so easily into a checkbox. The race vs. religion debate is an old one but at the end of the day, Jews are an ethno-religious people. Enough has been said this week about the Holocaust and race. If you want to learn more about race during the Holocaust, please click here.

The answer will not come in suspending or firing people when they show genuine remorse but in education. This is the way.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.