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The Holocaust Industry

The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering is a book by Norman G. Finkelstein which argues that the history of the Holocaust has been corrupted by an "industry" which exploits the memory of the Holocaust to further Jewish and Israeli interests.

Many of the book's specific charges are hotly debated:

Critical response

In response, the book's critics point out that the reason for a delay in the distribution of compensation by Swiss banks is that United States courts have yet to decide on a method of distribution, not any attempt at withholding the funds.

Finkelstein further believes that many American Jews are not practicing Judaism but have replaced it with fund-raising for Jewish causes, a charge that has been condemned as encouraging anti-semitic stereotypes..

A new, expanded edition of the book has been published. In the foreword to this edition Finkelstein writes:

My concern in this book is not at all Swiss bankers or, for that matter, German industrialists. Rather, it is restoring the integrity of the historical record and the sanctity of the Jewish people's martyrdom. I deplore the Holocaust industry's corruption of history and memory in the service of an extortion racket.

Reviews and critiques

The critical response has has been variable. Some view it as "a breath of fresh air", and believe his ideas are sound. Others have said that the ideas are contentious. He says of his critics in the forward to the second edition:

Apart from an abundance of ad hominem slurs, criticism of my book has fallen largely into two categories. Mainstream critics allege that I conjured a "conspiracy theory" while those on the Left ridicule the book as a defense of "the banks". None, so far as I can tell, question my actual findings.

Andrew Ross reviewed the book in Salon magazine and say's about Finkelstein:

On the issue of reparations, he barely acknowledges the wrongs committed by the Swiss and German institutions — the burying of Jewish bank accounts, the use of slave labor — that gave rise to the recent reparations drive. The fear that the reparations will not wind up in the hands of those who need and deserve them most is a legitimate concern. But the idea that survivors have been routinely swindled by Jewish institutions is a gross distortion. The chief reason why survivors have so far seen nothing of the $1.25 billion Swiss settlement, reached in 1998, is that U.S. courts have yet to rule on a method of distribution. On other reparations and compensation settlements, the Claims Conference, a particular bete noire of Finkelstein, says that it distributed approximately $220 million to individual survivors in 1999 alone.

Raul Hilberg, leading Holocaust historian, says of The Holocaust Industry:

When I read Finkelstein's book, The Holocaust Industry, at the time of its appearance, I was in the middle of my own investigations of these matters, and I came to the conclusion that he was on the right track. I refer now to the part of the book that deals with the claims against the Swiss banks, and the other claims pertaining to forced labor. I would now say in retrospect that he was actually conservative, moderate and that his conclusions are trustworthy. He is a well-trained political scientist, has the ability to do the research, did it carefully, and has come up with the right results. I am by no means the only one who, in the coming months or years, will totally agree with Finkelstein's breakthrough.

(See Finkelstein's biography for more controversies surrounding both the book and his statements related thereto.)