Finkelstein (at 23 min 41sec of full interview video):

“I think it’s important to separate the two issues. Number 1, there is the issue of the truth of the Nazi holocaust. In my opinion, rational people will not debate whether the Nazi holocaust happened. Of course the Nazi holocaust happened. It was a colossal crime that was committed against Jews, against Gypsies, against the handicapped, against many peoples. Among those people were the crimes committed, colossal crimes, against the Jews. Roughly speaking, you can say between 5 and 5 1/2 million Jews were exterminated during World War 2 [The Destruction of the European Jews, Yale Univ. Press, 2003, c1961)]. That’s the factual question and rational people, reasonable people, will not debate the factual question. But then there is a second question, the political question, namely, the use to which the Nazi holocaust has been put. Is the Nazi holocaust being used as a way of enlightening people about human suffering and about crimes committed against innocent people? Or is the Nazi holocaust being used to confuse people and to deny crimes which are being committed now by Jews? That’s a political question and we shouldn’t confuse the two. There are many people unfortunately who, because Israel has misused the Nazi holocaust, exploited the Nazi holocaust, they have decided to deny the Nazi holocaust ever happened. Now, to me, that’s foolish. You can’t deny facts. It happened. It was horrific. What you should do, in my opinion, is to expose the wrong purposes, the evil purposes to which these facts are being put. That’s a separate question.”



How MEMRI presents itself

[From the MEMRI website:]

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) explores the Middle East through the region’s media. MEMRI bridges the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, providing timely translations of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East. Founded in February 1998 to inform the debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East, MEMRI is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501 (c)3 organization.

The truth about MEMRI

MEMRI is a main arm of Israeli propaganda. Although widely used in the mainstream media as a source of information on the Arab world, it is as trustworthy as Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer was on the Jewish world.

The evidence

MEMRI recently posted what it alleged was an interview I did with Lebanese television on the Nazi holocaust. The MEMRI posting was designed to prove that I was a Holocaust denier. Below I juxtapose the MEMRI version of my interview (both the actual broadcast version as well as the transcript it prepared) against what I actually said in the interview.

Footnotes

1. Streicher was sentenced to death at Nuremberg.

2. “When the true history of this era is written…the dispatches of MEMRI will be copiously represented in every true scholar’s footnotes” – Martin Peretz, Editor and Publisher, The New Republic. (Another of Peretz’s notable predictions back in 1984 was that Joan Peters’s From Time Immemorial “will change the mind of our generation. If understood, it could affect the history of the future.”)



MEMRI’s press release

The press release text: Lebanon’s New TV: ‘Contradictions, Lies, and Exaggerations’ in Number Killed in ‘Jewish Holocaust’

MEMRI’s version of the video:

MEMRI Clip # 1180(Windows Media) | YouTube.com (Flash video)



FULL VERSION of Finkelstein’s 06.21.2006 NEW TV interview:

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Transcript: Finkelstein’s NEW TV Interview, 06.21.2006

NOTE: Highlighted text indicates parts edited out by MEMRI with ellipses.

RUSH transcript

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: Thank you for having me.

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: The main reason I wrote the book is because I thought that the Nazi holocaust was being exploited by Israel and its supporters in the United States against the Palestinians and against basic principles of justice. That is, the Nazi holocaust is being used as a political weapon in order to silence criticism of Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories. There were also other reasons for writing the book. Obviously, there was a personal reason, namely my parents passed through the Nazi holocaust. Every member of their families was exterminated during the war and I felt it was important to accurately represent what happened to them during the Nazi holocaust. As for my credibility, I think that one should apply to everybody a single standard, namely evaluate the evidence, evaluate the argument. If the evidence is valid, if the argument seems reasonable, then your credibility is good. If the evidence seems weak, if the argument seems unreasonable, then your credibility is bad. I don’t think it has much to do with whether or not you’re a Jew.

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: My book is not really about the Nazi holocaust. There are very excellent historians who have done very excellent research on the subject. My book is mostly about the misuse or exploitation of the Nazi holocaust for political purposes. The main claims I make in the book are, first of all, that the notion of Holocaust uniqueness – that is, no group of people in the history of humankind has suffered the way Jews have suffered – has no basis in historical fact and is an immoral doctrine because it ranks human suffering, saying some suffering is better and some suffering is worse. The main purpose of this claim of Holocaust uniqueness is to immunize, to protect, Israel from criticism. The doctrine says: Because Jews have suffered uniquely, Israel should not be held to the same moral and legal standards as other peoples. The other point I examine in the book is the claim that “the whole world wanted to kill the Jews” and that’s why the Nazi holocaust happened. The main argument I make in the book is that there’s no evidence that the whole world wanted to kill the Jews. A very excellent formulation statement was that by the British historian Ian Kershaw. Kershaw wrote in one of his books, “the road to Auschwitz” – the Nazi concentration and death camp – “was built on hate but paved with indifference.” I think that’s the important lesson. There were a handful of fanatics who were driven by hate but it was the indifference of most of the world that enabled the fanatics to get their way.

00:06:00

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: Yes, that’s the quote I began my book with. [translation pause]

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: Well, one of the points I make in the book is that there has been a gross inflation of the number of survivors. In fact, as all serious historians have shown, Hitler’s extermination of the Jews was very efficient, it was like a factory, an assembly line: Jews were processed to be murdered. When you have such an efficient system there can’t be very many survivors. In fact, the best estimates show that by May, 1945, that is, at the end of World War II, about 100,000 Jews had survived the concentration camps, the ghettos and the labor camps. If 100,000 Jews survived the camps and ghettos in 1945, then 60 years later, roughly around now, there can’t be more than a few thousand survivors still alive. But the Holocaust industry wanted to blackmail Europe in order to get compensation monies. And in order to blackmail Europe, they said there were hundreds of thousands, even over a million, needy Holocaust victims who were still alive. They inflated the number of survivors in order to blackmail Europe. But by inflating the number of survivors, they ended up diminishing the number of victims. They are the real Holocaust deniers.

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: I think there is a lot of misunderstanding on that topic. From the founding of Israel after World War II until June 1967 American Jews had very little interest in Israel. This was because American Jews wanted to succeed in American life. They were afraid that they would be charged with being loyal to another State, that is, the Jewish state of Israel. And so, they kept their distance from Israel because their interest was to succeed in America. After June 1967, when Israel became America’s strategic outpost in the Middle East, it was only then, when it was safe and even beneficial to be pro-Israel, that American Jews became pro-Israel. It is incorrect to believe that American Jews were pro-Israel before they were pro-American. The first loyalty of American Jews has been to the state where they enjoy their power and their privilege, that is, the United States. Israel only came later when it was safe and profitable to be pro-Israel.

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: You must remember that the United States’ main ally after World War II, its main ally in Europe was, Germany, West Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany. And many leaders of the Federal Republic of Germany and many members of the German elite had been members of the Nazi elites. And so you were not allowed to mention the Nazi holocaust because that was seen as undermining, as jeopardizing, the US-German relationship because it was reminding people of what these very same Germans had done just a few years earlier. So all talk of the Nazi holocaust was a taboo in American life. You weren’t allowed to talk about it. For example, when I was growing up in the 1950s and the 1960s I used to hang out with a very smart crowd of people. I wasn’t as smart as them, but I liked to be around smart people. People who are prominent professors, prominent in the professions, in medicine and law. Now, my friends and I, we talked politics, we talked history but I can tell you for certain that none of them ever asked me any questions about my parents. Even though both of them were survivors of the Nazi holocaust. No one back then was interested in the topic.

00:14:40

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: No I do not. I do not believe that the Nazi holocaust is unique and I do not believe that the suffering of Jews is unique. I think there’s no basis in the historical argument for the uniqueness of the Nazi holocaust. There are aspects, features of the Nazi holocaust, that are unique, just as there are aspects and features of other genocides that are unique but that does not mean the Nazi holocaust belongs in a separate category, apart from all the other sufferings in the history of human kind. I do not agree with that. On a moral level it’s simply an abomination to rank suffering and say “one people has suffered more than another.” How can you say it’s more painful to die in a gas chamber than it is to die when your flesh is incinerated by napalm? Who is to decide which is a more painful suffering? That I think is absurd. The claim of unique suffering was used by Jews…

00:17:20

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: Yes, I think there is something wrong when the United States has a museum devoted to what Germany did to the Jews but it does not have any museum devoted to what America did to its native population, the expulsion and extermination of the Native Americans. It does not have a museum devoted to what was done to Africans brought over here as slaves, yet it has a museum about what happened in Europe. What would Americans think if Germany, in its capital, were to create a museum commemorating slavery in the United States, commemorating the extermination of Native Americans but had no museum devoted to the Nazi holocaust. Of course, Americans would say “that’s pure hypocrisy.” Well, we are now guilty of the same hypocrisy. 00:19:00

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: What I said was, quoting from an Israeli newspaper, that whenever Israel commits atrocities it is able to mobilize all of its supporters in the United States, including the Holocaust Museum and including all of the organizations which are devoted to the Holocaust, it is able to mobilize all of these organizations in order to silence criticism of Israeli atrocities, and that’s what happened after the Qana massacre [in 1996 – ed.], and that’s what always happens. I can give you an example from this past week. There is a very big church called the Presbyterians and two years ago the Presbyterians passed a resolution which said it would not invest in companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The Jewish organizations got very angry. They started to say — this Presbyterian resolution is just like the Holocaust, the Nazis boycotted Jewish businesses and now the Presbyterian Church is boycotting Israel economically. And this past week the Presbyterians were meeting again in Burmingham, Alabama to discuss whether to take back the resolution. I attended the convention to urge the Presbyterians to stay with the resolution. Do not take it back. But then all of these Rabbis and Jewish organizations, they came to the convention, and they talked on and on, that this resolution is the Holocaust all over again, it’s another attack on the Jews, just like Hitler, and that’s how they use the Nazi holocaust as a weapon. Just like they did after the Qana massacre. That’s how they use it as a weapon to silence criticism of Israel’s immoral and illegal policies against the Palestinians and the Lebanese people.

00:23:00

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: I think it’s important to separate the two issues. Number 1, there is the issue of the truth of the Nazi holocaust. In my opinion, rational people will not debate whether the Nazi holocaust happened. Of course the Nazi holocaust happened. It was a colossal crime that was committed against Jews, against Gypsies, against the handicapped, against many peoples. Among those people were the crimes committed, colossal crimes, against the Jews. Roughly speaking, you can say between 5 and 5 1/2 million Jews were exterminated during World War 2. That’s the factual question and rational people, reasonable people, will not debate the factual question. But then there is a second question, the political question, namely, the use to which the Nazi holocaust has been put. Is the Nazi holocaust being used as a way of enlightening people about human suffering and about crimes committed against innocent people? Or is the Nazi holocaust being used to confuse people and to deny crimes which are being committed now by Jews? That’s a political question and we shouldn’t confuse the two. There are many people unfortunately who, because Israel has misused the Nazi holocaust, exploited the Nazi holocaust, they have decided to deny the Nazi holocaust ever happened. Now, to me, that’s foolish. You can’t deny facts. It happened. It was horrific. What you should do, in my opinion, is to expose the wrong purposes, the evil purposes to which these facts are being put. That’s a separate question.

00:27:40

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: There is no evidence at all that Swiss banks ever kept billions of dollars that belonged to Jews during World War II or before World War II. The basic facts are these. Number 1, most Jews before World War II were very, very poor. They lived in little villages in Eastern Europe. The villages were called shtetls. Most Jews were poor. Number 2, beginning in the early 1930s there was a worldwide depression, which means, even if you had money, you lost it during the depression. Number 3, if you had the money and you kept it, then you managed to escape during the Nazi holocaust. That’s one of the advantages to being rich. You have enough money to buy your way out. So those Jews who had money and kept it after the Depression, they used the money to get out and then they withdrew their money from the banks after the war. When you add those 3 facts up: #1, most Jews were poor, #2, there is a depression, and #3, the rich Jews escaped, which means logically there could not have been very much Jewish money in the Swiss banks. This was all made up by the Holocaust blackmailers.

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: The Swiss acknowledged 30 million dollars, and in fact, according to my own estimates based on the evidence, it couldn’t have been more than 60 million dollars. But the Holocaust industry was able to get 1 1/2billion dollars from the Swiss banks. It was pure robbery. Let me make one other point. The Holocaust industry claimed it was demanding the money for what it called needy Holocaust victims but the victims never saw the money. Once these organizations got the 1.5 billion dollars, the organizations kept the money for themselves. It was not for the victims. These organizations don’t care about the victims of the Nazi holocaust just as they never cared about the Nazi holocaust itself. It’s a useful weapon. It was a good political weapon and then they discovered in the 1990s it was a wonderful economic weapon to blackmail Europe. They went after Switzerland because Switzerland was politically very weak. It had Swiss banks but it had no political power.

00:33:00

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: Switzerland had economic relations with Germany during the war, it was involved in transactions with Germany during the war. Some were legal, some were not legal, they behaved like every other power would. Remember that the United States did not enter WW2 until 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Up until 1941 the United States banks also had relations with the Germans. That’s the way big powers operate. The Swiss were no different. The record of the Swiss is no better and no worse than any other country. There were Jews who sent money to American banks. Those Jews died. The American banks never returned the money. There were many Jews who sent money to Jewish banks, Zionist banks in Palestine. Till this day, as we speak right now, the Israeli banks refuse to return the money to the relatives of those Jews who deposited money and died. The Swiss paid up in 1998. It’s nearly 10 years later, the Israeli banks, Bank Leumi, will not pay back anything.

00:36:00

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: There is no evidence, as I said before, that much money was deposited in Swiss banks and there is no evidence that the Swiss bankers behaved any differently than the American bankers or the Israeli bankers. What happened in the 1990s was that among the main backers of former President Clinton, among the main backers of the Democratic Party, were powerful Jews like Edgar Bronfman, the president of the World Jewish Congress. Basically, a deal was made between people like Bronfman and President Clinton — we will support you for president if in return you will support some of our activities.



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