Hello! I’m a Jew who lost dozens of relatives in the Holocaust. Happy to help.
(First, I totally disagree with suspending Whoopi from the show, and so do all the other Jews I know.)
Now, on to the core issue:
Whoopi said the Holocaust “wasn’t about race.”
But it was.
The Nazis conceived themselves as champions of an Aryan race.
Jews, in their view, were a subhuman race that had to be exterminated. They were extremely explicit about this; I’m happy to point you to Hitler’s writing on the subject and to the Race Laws they passed if you’d like.
So, to a Jew like me whose ancestors were murdered by Nazi racists, being told their murder wasn’t about race is offensive.
If it helps, imagine that I said “Slavery wasn’t about race because race is a social construct and we’re all human. Slavery was just about man’s inhumanity to man.” What would your response be?
Regarding whether Jews are/want to be white: many Jews feel quite complicated about this. Many Jews have light skin and pass as white in America, but a) there are black/brown/asian Jews and b) even if you have light skin, when you’ve been exterminated by white racists who believe you’re not white, it’s hard to feel like you belong fully to that category. In other words, it’s not just a matter of skin tone (in the same way that Sri Lankans aren’t Black, despite having very dark skin).
And even in America, we often hear about how whiteness is America’s “default,” along with heterosexuality & Christianity. To the extent that that’s the definition of whiteness, Jews fit into the category even less well. We were restricted from lots of jobs for a long time, live in an extremely Christian-centric society, and many of us changed our surnames in order not to have to deal with antisemitism.
I’m grateful for your curiosity!