excerpts from the book
The Holocaust Industry
Reflections on the Exploitation
of Jewish Suffering
by Norman G. Finkelstein
Verso, 2000, paper
The US is the corporate headquarters of the Holocaust industry.
American Jewish elites did not shrink from sacrificing fellow
Jews on the altar of anti-Communism. Offering their files on alleged
Jewish subversives to government agencies, the AJC and the ADL
actively collaborated -. in the McCarthy-era witch-hunt. The AJC
endorsed the death penalty for the Rosenbergs, while its monthly
publication, Commentary, editorialized that they weren't really
Fearful of association with the political
Left abroad and at home, mainstream Jewish organizations opposed
cooperation with anti-Nazi German social-democrats as well as
boycotts of German manufactures and public demonstrations against
ex-Nazis touring the United States. On the other hand, prominent
visiting German dissidents like Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller,
who had spent eight years in Nazi concentration camps and was
now against the anti-Communist crusade, suffered the obloquy of
American Jewish leaders. Anxious to boost their anti-Communist
credentials, Jewish elites even enlisted in, and financially sustained,
right-wing extremist organizations like the All-American Conference
to Combat Communism and turned a blind j eye as veterans of the
Nazi SS entered the country.
Then came the June  war. Impressed by Israel's overwhelming
display of force, the United States moved to incorporate it as
a strategic asset. (Already before the June war the United States
had cautiously tilted toward Israel as the Egyptian and Syrian
regimes charted an increasingly independent course in the mid-1960s.)
Military and economic assistance began to pour in as Israel turned
into a proxy for US power in the Middle East.
For American Jewish elites, Israel's subordination
to US power was a windfall. Zionism had sprung from the premise
that assimilation was a pipe dream, that Jews would always be
perceived as potentially disloyal aliens. To resolve this dilemma,
Zionists sought to establish a homeland for the Jews. In fact,
Israel's founding exacerbated the problem, at any rate for diaspora
Jewry: it gave the charge of dual loyalty institutional expression.
Paradoxically, after June 1967, Israel facilitated assimilation
in the United States: Jews now stood on the front lines defending
America - indeed, "Western civilization" against the
retrograde Arab hordes. Whereas before 1967 Israel conjured the
bogy of dual loyalty, it now connoted super-loyalty. After all,
it was not Americans but Israelis fighting and dying to protect
US interests. And unlike the American GIs in Vietnam, Israeli
fighters were not being humiliated by Third World upstarts.
Accordingly, American Jewish elites suddenly
discovered Israel. After the 1967 war, Israel's military élan
could be celebrated because its guns pointed in the right direction
- against America's enemies. Its martial prowess might even facilitate
entry into the inner sanctums of American power. Previously Jewish
elites could only offer a few lists of Jewish subversives; now,
they could pose as the natural interlocutors for America's newest
strategic asset. From bit players, they could advance to top billing
in the Cold War drama. Thus for American Jewry, as well as the
United States, Israel became a strategic asset.
Norman Podhoretz in his memoir 'Breaking Ranks' remembered that
after June 1967 Israel became "the religion of the American
For Israel's new American Jewish "supporters," however,
such talk bordered on heresy: an independent Israel at peace with
its neighbors was worthless; an Israel aligned with currents in
the Arab world seeking independence from the United States was
a disaster. Only an Israeli Sparta beholden to American power
would do, because only then could US Jewish leaders act as the
spokesmen for American imperial ambitions.
It was not Israel's alleged weakness and isolation, not the fear
of a "second Holocaust," but rather its proven strength
and strategic alliance with the United States that led Jewish
elites to gear up the Holocaust industry after June 1967. However
unwittingly, Novick provides the best evidence to support that
conclusion. To prove that power considerations, not the Nazi Final
Solution, determined American policy toward Israel, he writes:
"It was when the Holocaust was freshest in the mind of American
leaders the first twenty-five years after the end of the war -
that the United States was least supportive of Israel . . . .
It was not when Israel was perceived as weak and vulnerable, but
after it demonstrated its strength, in the Six Day War, that American
aid to Israel changed from a trickle to a flood" (emphasis
in original)." That argument applies with equal force to
American Jewish elites.
... after World War II, Jews rose to preeminence in the United
States. According to Lipset and Raab [Seymour Martin Lipset and
Earl Raab, Jews arid the New American Scene (Cambridge: 1995)],
per capita Jewish income is almost double that of non-Jews; sixteen
of the forty wealthiest Americans are Jews; 40 percent of American
Nobel Prize winners in science and economics are Jewish, as are
20 percent of professors at major universities; and 40 percent
partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington.
What an American Jewish child inherits, according to novelist
Philip Roth, is "no body of law, no body of learning and
no language, and finally, no Lord . . . but a kind of psychology:
and the psychology can be translated in three words: 'Jews are
Israeli journalist Danny Rubinstein
"According to most of the people
in the Jewish establishment the important thing is to stress again
and again the external dangers that face Israel . . . . The Jewish
establishment in America needs Israel only as a victim of cruel
Arab attack. For such an Israel one can get support, donors, money.
As American Jews enjoyed greater secular success, they moved steadily
to the right politically. Although still left-of-center on cultural
questions such as sexual morality and abortion, Jews grew increasingly
conservative on politics and the economy." Complementing
the rightward turn was an inward turn, as Jews, no longer mindful
of past allies among the have-nots, increasingly earmarked their
resources for Jewish concerns only.
Holocaust awareness," the respected Israeli writer Boas Evron
observes, is actually "an official, propagandistic indoctrination,
a churning out of slogans and a false view of the world, the real
aim of which is not at all an understanding of the past, but a
manipulation of the present."
Cuban President Fidel Castro ... accused the capitalist system
of regularly causing deaths on the scale of World War II by ignoring
the needs of the poor.
"The images we see of mothers and
children in whole regions of Africa under the lash of drought
and other catastrophes remind us of the concentration camps of
"We lack a Nuremberg to judge the
economic order imposed upon us, where every three years more men,
women and children die of hunger and preventable diseases than
died in the Second World War."
The reparations issue provides unique insight into the Holocaust
Industry... aligning with the United States in the Cold War, Germany
was quickly rehabilitated and the Nazi holocaust forgotten. Nonetheless,
in the early 1950s Germany entered into negotiations with Jewish
institutions and signed indemnification agreements. With little
if any external pressure, it has paid out to date some $60 billion.
Compare first the American record. Some
4-5 million men, women and children died as a result of the US
wars in Indochina. After the American withdrawal, a historian
recalls, Vietnam desperately needed aid. "In the South, 9,000
out of 15,000 hamlets, 25 million acres of farmland, 12 million
acres of forest were destroyed, and 1.5 million farm animals had
been killed; there were an estimated 200,000 prostitutes, 879,000
orphans, 181,000 disabled people, and 1 million widows; all six
of the industrial cities in the North had been badly damaged,
as were provincial and district towns, and 4,000 out of 5,800
agricultural communes." Refusing, however, to pay any reparations,
President Carter explained that "the destruction was mutual."
Declaring that he saw no need for "any apologies, certainly,
for the war itself," President Clinton's Defense Secretary,
William Cohen, similarly opined: "Both nations were scarred
by this. They have their scars from the war. We certainly have
Apart from Holocaust memorials, fully seventeen states mandate
or recommend Holocaust programs in their schools, and many colleges
and universities have endowed chairs in Holocaust studies. Hardly
a week passes without a major Holocaust-related story in the New
York Times. The number of scholarly studies devoted to the Nazi
Final Solution is conservatively estimated at over 10,000. Consider
by comparison scholarship on the hecatomb in the Congo. Between
1891 and 1911, some 10 million Africans perished in the course
of Europe's exploitation of Congolese ivory and rubber resources.
Yet, the first and only scholarly volume in English directly devoted
to this topic was published two years ago.
Given the vast number of institutions
and professionals dedicated to preserving its memory, The Holocaust
is by now firmly entrenched American life.
It is much easier deplore the crime: of other: than to look at
ourselves. It is also true, however, that were the will there
we could learn much about ourselves from the Nazi experience.
Manifest Destiny anticipated nearly all the ideological and programmatic
elements of Hitler's Lebensraum policy. In fact, Hitler modeled
his conquest of the East on the American conquest of the West.
During the first half of this century, a majority of American
states enacted sterilization laws and tens of thousands of Americans
were involuntarily sterilized. The Nazis explicitly invoked this
US precedent when they enacted their own sterilization laws.'
The notorious 1935 Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of the franchise
and forbade miscegenation between Jews and non-Jews. Blacks in
the American South suffered the same legal disabilities and were
the object of much greater spontaneous and sanctioned popular
violence than the Jews in prewar Germany.'
To highlight unfolding crimes abroad,
the US often summons memories of The Holocaust. The more revealing
point, however, is when the US invokes The Holocaust. Crimes of
official enemies such as the Khmer Rouge bloodbath in Cambodia,
the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait,
and Serbian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo recall The Holocaust; crimes
in which the US is complicit do not.
Just as the Khmer Rouge atrocities were
unfolding in Cambodia, the US-backed Indonesian government was
slaughtering one-third of the population in East Timor. Yet unlike
Cambodia, the East Timor genocide did not rate comparison with
The Holocaust; it didn't even rate news coverage.' Just as the
Soviet Union was committing what the Simon Wiesenthal Center called
"another genocide" in Afghanistan, the US-backed regime
in Guatemala was perpetrating what the Guatemalan Truth Commission
recently called a "genocide" against the indigenous
Mayan population. President Reagan dismissed the charges against
the Guatemalan government as a "bum rap." To honor Jeane
Kirkpatrick's achievement as chief Reagan Administration apologist
for the unfolding crimes in Central America, the Simon Wiesenthal
Center awarded her the Humanitarian of the Year Award." Simon
Wiesenthal was privately beseeched before the award ceremony to
reconsider. He refused. Elie Wiesel was privately asked to intercede
with the Israeli government, a main weapons supplier for the Guatemalan
butchers. He too refused. The Carter Administration invoked the
memory of The
Holocaust as it sought haven for Vietnamese
"boat people" fleeing the Communist regime. The Clinton
Administration forgot The Holocaust as it forced back Haitian
"boat people" fleeing US-supported death squads.
Holocaust memory loomed large as the US-led
NATO bombing of Serbia commenced in the spring of 1999. As we
have seen, Daniel Goidhagen compared Serbian crimes against Kosovo
with the Final Solution and, at President Clinton's bidding, Elie
Wiesel journeyed to Kosovar refugee camps in Macedonia and Albania.
Already before Wiesel went to shed tears on cue for the Kosovars,
however, the US-backed Indonesian regime had resumed where it
left off in the late 1970s, perpetrating new massacres in East
Timor. The Holocaust vanished from memory, however, as the Clinton
Administration acquiesced in the bloodletting. "Indonesia
matters," a Western diplomat explained, "and East Timor
Novick points to passive US complicity
in human disasters dissimilar in other respects yet comparable
in scale to the Nazi extermination. Recalling, for example, the
million children killed in the Final Solution, he observes that
American presidents do little more than utter pieties as, worldwide,
many times that number of children "die of malnutrition and
preventable diseases" every year." One might also consider
a pertinent case of active US complicity. After the United States-led
coalition devastated Iraq in 1991 to punish "Saddam-Hitler,"
the United States and Britain forced murderous UN sanctions on
that hapless country in an attempt to depose him. As in the Nazi
holocaust, a million children have likely perished.'* Questioned
on national television about the grisly death toll in Iraq, Secretary
of State Madeleine Aibright replied that "the price is worth
In late August 2000 the World Jewish Congress (WJC) announced
that it stood to amass fully $9 billion in Holocaust compensation
monies. They were extracted in the name of "needy Holocaust
victims" but the WJC now maintained that the monies belonged
to the "Jewish people as a whole" (WJC executive director,
Elan Steinberg). Conveniently, the WJC is the self-anointed representative
of the "Jewish people as a whole." Meanwhile, a black-tie
Holocaust reparations banquet sponsored by WJC president Edgar
Bronfman at New York's Pierre Hotel celebrated the creation of
a "Foundation of the Jewish People" to subsidize Jewish
organizations and "Holocaust education." (One Jewish
critic of the "Holocaust-themed dinner" conjured this
scenario: "Mass murder. Horrible plunder. Slave labor. Let's
eat.") The Foundation's endowment would come from "residual"
Holocaust compensation monies amounting to "probably billions
of dollars" (Steinberg). How the WJC already knew that "probably
billions" would be left over when none of the compensation
monies had yet been distributed to Holocaust victims was anyone's
guess. Indeed, it was not yet even known how many would qualify.
Or, did the Holocaust industry extract compensation monies in
the name of "needy Holocaust victims" knowing all along
that "probably billions" would be left over? The Holocaust
industry bitterly complained that the German and Swiss settlements
allotted only meager sums for survivors. It is unclear why the
"probably billions" couldn't be used to supplement these
Predictably, Holocaust survivors reacted
with rage. (None was present at the Foundation's creation.) "Who
authorized these organizations to decide," a survivor newsletter
angrily editorialized, "that the 'leftovers' (in the billions),
obtained in the name of Shoah victims, should be used for their
pet projects instead of helping ALL holocaust survivors with their
mounting health-care expenses?" Confronted with this barrage
of negative publicity, the WJC did an abrupt about-face. The $9
billion figure was "a bit misleading," Steinberg subsequently
protested. He also claimed that the Foundation had "no cash
and no plan for allocating funds," and that the purpose of
the Holocaust banquet was not to celebrate the Foundation's endowment
from Holocaust compensation monies but rather to raise funds for
it. Elderly Jewish survivors, not consulted in advance of, let
alone invited to, the "star-studded gala" at the Pierre
Hotel, picketed outside.
Among those honored inside the Pierre
was President Clinton, who movingly recalled that the United States
stood in the forefront of "facing up to an ugly past":
"I have been to Native American reservations and acknowledged
that the treaties we signed were neither fair nor honorably kept
in many cases. I went to Africa ... and acknowledged the responsibility
of the United States in buying people into slavery. This is a
hard business, struggling to find our core of humanity."
Notably absent in all these instances of "hard business"
were reparations in hard currency.
... the pretexts invoked by the Holocaust industry to force a
non-recoupable settlement on the Swiss banks were false, and that
few actual survivors of the Nazi holocaust will directly - or,
for that matter, indirectly benefit from the Swiss monies. A comparable
analysis of other Holocaust industry settlements would presumably
yield comparable results. Indeed, buried in the details of the
Gribetz Plan is a nest egg for the Holocaust industry. Most of
the Swiss monies probably won! be distributed until after all
but a handful of survivors are dead. With the survivors gone,
the monies will pour into the coffers of Jewish organizations.
Small wonder that the Holocaust industry was unanimous in its
praise of the Gribetz Plan.