The author of a book entertainer Harry Belafonte used to defend his recent comments about blacks in the Bush administration is slamming the celebrity for citing its premise incorrectly.
Belafonte drew the ire of both Bush supporters and Jews last weekend when during a speech he dismissed the presence of blacks in the president’s administration, claiming there were “a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy of [Adolf Hitler’s] Third Reich.”
Wednesday, the singer altered his comment, telling the Jerusalem Post Jews weren’t “high up” in the Hitler apparatus, and then claiming, “Jews did have a role, some did, in the demise and brutal treatment of the Jewish people.”
In making his clarification, Belafonte cited the 2002 book “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers” by professor Bryan Mark Rigg.
The author released a statement in rebuttal to Belafonte, issued by the Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.
“Belafonte continues to distort history,” Rigg said. “My book ‘Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers’ shows that a number of people of partial Jewish ancestry served in the German military, but they did not even consider themselves Jews. Moreover, the vast majority of them were drafted – they were forced to serve Hitler just as other Jews were forced to become slave laborers in Auschwitz and elsewhere. In fact, many of them were later dismissed from the German military and sent to forced labor camps where they themselves were persecuted and some were murdered. Belafonte should take the trouble to read the books he cites, before claiming they support him. My book doesn’t support him.”
In the Jerusalem Post interview, Belafonte reiterated his claim that the policies of the Bush administration are “very much similar to the things that were done when Hitler was on the rise.” He also said that the criticism of his remarks about Jews and Hitler was due to the fact that “sometimes the Jewish people have laid claim to such a high and pure morality,” claiming they take great exception to facts which challenge that claim, despite that theirs “is a DNA that sits within the entire human family.”
Wyman Institute Director Rafael Medoff responded: “Hitler and his regime murdered 6 million Jews and launched a world war that caused more than 40 million deaths. How can that be compared to current U.S. government policy?” Medoff said that Belafonte’s remark about “the Jewish people claim[ing] a high and pure morality” smacks of bigotry, and he urged Belafonte to retract and apologize for his remarks.