The head of the Anti-Defamation League warned against condemning Whoopi Goldberg too harshly over her recent polarizing comments about the Holocaust and race.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of ADL, told CNN’s Don Lemon on Tuesday that he thinks the comedian regrets saying that the Holocaust “isn’t about race” during Monday’s episode of “The View” and sincerely wants to learn from her mistake.
“We sometimes have people in public places who can say clumsy things about race or faith or gender,” Greenblatt told Lemon. “I don’t believe in cancel culture. I like the phrase that my friend Nick Cannon uses: We need ‘counsel culture.’”
Greenblatt also pointed out to Lemon that repentance is an important aspect of Judaism.
“In the Jewish faith, Don, we have a concept called ‘teshuva,’ and teshuva means redemption. It means all of us have the power to admit when we do wrong and to commit to doing better,” Greenblatt said. “I heard Whoopi say that she’s committed to doing better. I accept that apology with the sincerity with which she delivered it.”
He added: “I’m committed, ADL is committed, to work with her and to work with others who really want to use this as a teachable moment.”
Goldberg made her controversial remarks about race during a discussion about a Tennessee school board’s decision to remove “Maus” — a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust — from an eighth-grade language arts curriculum.
“If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it,” Goldberg said on “The View” during Monday’s discussion. “Because the Holocaust isn’t about race. No, it’s not about race.”
When Goldberg’s co-host Joy Behar asked what she thought the genocide was about then, Goldberg replied:
“It’s not about race. It’s about man’s inhumanity to man. That’s what it’s about.”
Goldberg’s comments sparked widespread backlash, including from Greenblatt.
“The Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people ― who they deemed to be an inferior race,” Greenblatt tweeted at Goldberg on Monday.
Goldberg issued a statement Monday evening offering her “sincerest apologies.”
“The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never [waver]. I’m sorry for the hurt I have caused,” she wrote. Goldberg also issued an on-air apology on Tuesday’s episode of “The View” and invited Greenblatt onto the show to explain how Goldberg’s comments were inaccurate and harmful.
Despite her apologies, Goldberg was suspended from the show for two weeks for “wrong and hurtful comments” about Jews and the Holocaust, ABC News President Kim Godwin said in a statement provided to HuffPost on Tuesday.
When Lemon asked Greenblatt about Goldberg’s suspension, Greenblatt acknowledged that “there are a lot of reasons why the Jewish community is concerned” about her comments. But he also noted that she apologized twice and has “been a friend of the Jewish community all throughout her career.”
“I hope Whoopi can use the next two weeks for a process of introspection and learning,” Greenblatt said.
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