[b]THE HOLOCAUST INDUSTRY
: REFLECTIONS ON THE EXPLOITATION OF JEWISH SUFFERING[/b] (Second Edition)
by Norman G. Finkelstein
Foreword to New English Paperback Edition
[Note: The paperback edition of The Holocaust Industry is scheduled for release in September 2001. In addition to this foreword, it will include a detailed postscript analyzing new developments in the Holocaust reparations racket since publication of the hardcover edition.]
Foreword to the Paperback Edition
The Holocaust Industry evoked considerable reaction internationally after its publication in June 2000. It prompted a national debate and reached the top of the bestseller list in many countries ranging from Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands to Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Every major British publication devoted at least a full page to the book, while France's Le Monde devoted two full pages and an editorial. It was the subject of numerous radio and television programs and several feature-length documentaries. The most intense reaction was in Germany. Nearly 200 journalists packed the press conference for the German translation of the book and a capacity crowd of 1,000 (half as many more were turned away for lack of space) attended a raucous public discussion in Berlin. The German edition sold 130,000 copies within weeks and three volumes bearing on the book were published within months. (1) Currently, The Holocaust Industry is scheduled for 16 translations.
In contrast to the deafening roar elsewhere, the initial response in the United States was a deafening silence. No mainstream media outlet would touch the book. (2) The U.S. is the corporate headquarters of the Holocaust industry
. A study documenting that chocolate caused cancer would presumably elicit a similar response in Switzerland. When the attention abroad proved impossible to ignore, hysterical commentaries in select venues effectively buried the book. Two in particular deserve notice.
The New York Times serves as the main promotional vehicle of the Holocaust industry. It is primarily responsible for advancing the careers of Jerzy Kosinski, Daniel Goldhagen, and Elie Wiesel. For frequency of coverage, the Holocaust places a close second to the daily weather report. Typically, The New York Times Index 1999 listed fully 273 entries for the Holocaust. By comparison, the whole of Africa rated 32 entries. (3) The 6 August 2000 issue of The New York Times Book Review featured a major review of The Holocaust Industry ("A Tale of Two Holocausts") by Omer Bartov, an Israeli military historian turned Holocaust expert. Ridiculing the notion of Holocaust profiteers as a "novel variation of 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,'" Bartov let loose a barrage of invective: "bizarre," "outrageous," "paranoid," "shrill," "strident," "indecent," "juvenile," "self-righteous," "arrogant," "stupid," "smug," "fanatic," and so forth. (4) In a priceless sequel some months later, Bartov suddenly reversed himself. Now he railed against the "growing list of Holocaust profiteers," and put forth as a prime example "Norman Finkelstein's 'The Holocaust Industry.'" (5)
In September 2000, Commentary senior editor Gabriel Schoenfeld published a blistering attack entitled "Holocaust Reparations - A Growing Scandal." Retracing the ground covered in the third chapter of this book, Schoenfeld chastised Holocaust profiteers inter alia for "unrestrainedly availing themselves of any method, however unseemly or even disreputable," "wrapping themselves in the rhetoric of a sacred cause," and "stoking the fires of anti-Semitism." Although his bill of indictment precisely echoed The Holocaust Industry, Schoenfeld denigrated the book and its author in this and a companion Commentary piece (6) as "extremist," "lunatic," "crackpot" and "bizarre." A subsequent op-ed article for the Wall Street Journal by Schoenfeld again blasted "The New Holocaust Profiteers" (11 April 2001), concluding that "one of the most serious assaults on memory these days comes not from Holocaust deniers...but from literary and legal ambulance chasers." This charge also precisely echoed The Holocaust Industry. In gracious acknowledgment, Schoenfeld lumped me with Holocaust deniers as an "obvious crackpot."
To both savage and appropriate a book's findings is no mean achievement. The performances of Bartov and Shoenfeld recall a piece of wisdom imparted by my late mother: "It's not an accident that Jews invented the word chutzpah." On an altogether different note, it was my rare good fortune that the undisputed dean of Nazi holocaust scholars, Raul Hilberg, repeatedly lent public support to controversial arguments in The Holocaust Industry. (7) Like his scholarship Hilberg's integrity humbles. Perhaps it's not an accident that Jews also invented the word mensch.
Norman G. Finkelstein
New York City