Whoopi Goldberg says she never meant for her recent interview comments about Jewish identity and the Holocaust — which were criticized by Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt — to appear as if she was “doubling down” on previous “hurtful” comments that resulted in her temporary suspension from her role as moderator on ABC’s The View.
In a statement sent Tuesday to The Hollywood Reporter, Goldberg noted that her recent comments, made while doing press in London, were an attempt to “convey to the reporter what I had said and why and attempted to recount that time.” However, she said, “It was never my intention to appear as if I was doubling down on hurtful comments,” especially after “talking with and hearing people like rabbis and old and new friends weighing in.”
“I’m still learning a lot and believe me, I heard everything everyone said to me. I believe that the Holocaust was about race, and I am still as sorry now as I was then that I upset, hurt and angered people. My sincere apologies again, especially to everyone who thought this was a fresh rehash of the subject. I promise it was not,” she added. “In this time of rising antisemitism, I want to be very clear when I say that I always stood with the Jewish people and always will. My support for them has not wavered and never will.”
Goldberg’s statement follows Greenblatt’s own response earlier Tuesday calling for the View host to apologize. The ADL CEO said the actor and TV host’s interview remarks, which were published in a recent Sunday Times profile, were “deeply offensive and incredibly ignorant” in a Twitter post.
“Additionally, Whoopi’s comments show a complete lack of awareness of the multiethnic, multiracial makeup of the Jewish community,” he wrote. “She needs to apologize immediately and actually commit to educating herself on the true nature of #antisemitism.”
In his social post, Greenblatt said that when Goldberg “made similar comments earlier this year, we explained how the Nazi regime was inherently racist.”
The extensive interview with the U.K. outlet published on Saturday was focused mostly on the making of Till, the drama that traces the journey of Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie, in her fight for justice after the murder of her son. But Goldberg also talked about her experiences as a Black woman in Hollywood, cancel culture and made comments that appeared to show a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be a trans woman and trans man.
When speaking of Till, Goldberg compared the process and experience to that of “Otto Frank publishing his daughter Anne’s diaries,” according to the Sunday Times, and also drew comparisons to the end of Fiddler on the Roof, written as a musical by Joseph Stein and based on the Tevye stories of Sholem Aleichem (born Solomon J. Rabinowitz).
That’s when Goldberg and reporter Janice Turner veered into a discussion that saw the View host repeat previous sentiments shared on the talk show and then on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert in early 2022 about the origins of the Holocaust and whether the Jewish people could be considered a race. “My best friend said, ‘Not for nothing is there no box on the census for the Jewish race. So that leads me to believe that we’re probably not a race,’” Goldberg said.
She went on to argue that the Holocaust “wasn’t originally” about Jewish people, telling the outlet that Nazis had initially targeted those “considered to be mentally defective.” When Turner pushed back, including noting that Nazis “saw Jews as a race” and “measured the heads and noses of Jews to ‘prove’ they were a distinct race,” Goldberg responded: “Yes, but that’s the killer, isn’t it? The oppressor is telling you what you are. Why are you believing them? They’re Nazis. Why believe what they’re saying?”
“They did that to Black people too,” she added. “But it doesn’t change the fact that you could not tell a Jew on a street. You could find me. You couldn’t find them. That was the point I was making. But you would have thought that I’d taken a big old stinky dump on the table, butt naked.”
In early February, Goldberg apologized for her past comments that the Holocaust was “not about race” but merely “man’s inhumanity to man” — while also describing the global Jewish population as white — in a segment featuring Greenblatt on The View. “Yesterday on the show I misspoke,” Goldberg said at the time. “[The Holocaust] is indeed about race, because Hitler and the Nazis considered the Jews to be an inferior race. Now, words matter, and mine are no exception. I regret my comments and I stand corrected. I also stand with the Jewish people.”