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I have a question about some paragraph in Finkelstein's Holocaust Industry. He writes that

Some years back, the parody of a New York tabloid was headlined: “Michael Jackson, 60 Million Others, Die in Nuclear Holocaust.” The letters page carried an irate protest by Elie Wiesel: "How dare people refer to what happened yesterday as a Holocaust? There was only one Holocaust..."

(This passage is from the 2nd paperback edition, pages 45-46.)

My question: What publication was that? And was the letter by Wiesel itself a parody or a real letter written by him. Finkelstein provides footnotes for quite a lot of things, unfortunately, not for this one.

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    @DenisdeBernardy Further: it's a spoof/parody, bringing this 'funny' headline and a reaction letter in the same issue! But this is not the onion? – LangLangC Jun 11 at 13:30
  • The problem I have is that it is not entirely clear if the letter by Wiesel was itself a spoof. – Maximilian Jun 11 at 14:34
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    this – justCal Jun 11 at 14:35
  • @justCal Thank you. Do you think that the response ascribed to Elie Wiesel was real? – Maximilian Jun 11 at 15:03
  • @KevinVanDyck I wanted to know whether Finkelstein was truthful in his reporting. And I think Finkelstein could have been more explicit by citing the source and noting that the spoof response was by "Elie Weisel". Furthermore, it is not clear for the outsider whether this spoof paper was a one-time only thing with no further issues, because that is what I thought. I then wondered which newspaper's letters page was meant. As a side note, calm down, no need for some snark. How about reading some books in a language you are not a native speaker of and then tell us how much you understood? – Maximilian Jun 13 at 12:58
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As Denis de Bernardy found the 'newspaper' alluded to by Finkelstein was the November issue of the 'Post New York Post'.

The headline didn't talk about 'a holocaust', nuclear or otherwise. The paper is a parody paper, not to be taken seriously, as if the news bit wouldn't suggest that already.

But if it would have contained a letter attributed to Eli Wiesel, it could not have been a real letter to the editor by Wiesel. A real reaction to an original, satirical fake news newspaper would not make much sense and is also impossible if viewed from logic, causality and march of time..

The paper could also have invented that bit and just ascribe such a letter to Wiesel?

Problem here: the newspaper does not headline anything 'holocaust', does not contain any reason to publish a letter that attempts to display a reaction by Wiesel to the non-existent headline.

But, that newspaper does have 'a letter' 'from Wiesel' in it. In the same November 1984 issue:

enter image description here (click on thumbnails to enlarge) enter image description here

Noteworthy:

  • Finkelstein imagines that a headline with '80 million dead' might also be written as "60 Million Others, Die in Nuclear Holocaust" (as this is a nice fit with "6 million Jews" Finkelstein wants to downplay).
  • Finkelstein's supposed quote is not exact, but apparently just from memory or overly sloppy
  • The Post Post spells 'Wiesel' as "Weisel", and Simon Wiesenthal in the same issue as "Weisenthal"

More context for Finkelstein:

Some years back, the parody of a New York tabloid was headlined: “Michael Jackson, 60 Million Others, Die in Nuclear Holocaust.” The letters page carried an irate protest from Wiesel: “How dare people refer to what happened yesterday as a Holocaust? There was only one Holocaust. . . .” In his new memoir Wiesel, proving that life can also imitate spoof, reprimands Shimon Peres for speaking “without hesitation of ‘the two holocausts’ of the twentieth century: Auschwitz and Hiroshima. He shouldn’t have.”

Finkelstein claims here that after the Post New York Post came out Elie Wiesel "imitated" the spoof in real life.

The context for the Wiesel quote on "Peres, Hiroshima, two Holocausts" in his memoirs reads differently than Finkelstein presents it, especially how Finkelstein contextualises it with the 'letter'.

One cannot speak of suffering or terror, of evil and disaster, without evoking the destruccitve demons unleashed in Hiroshima. Auschwitz and Hiroshima: One evokes the end of mankind, the other the apocalypse of our planet. Both symbolize the curse that, more than fifty years later, continues to weigh upon us. From now on, we will live with the frightful knowledge that the impossible has become possible. Evil has been unleashed, and nothing seems to contain it. Shimon Peres spoke without hesitation of the "two holocausts" of the twentieth century. Auschwitz and Hiroshima. He shouldn't have. Hiroshima was a cruel, inhuman decision, but it was part of a response to Japanese aggression and a global military strategy. It was intrinsically linked to the war in the Pacific. Auschwitz was conceived as an operation that carried its own justification: genocide.

What Wiesel actually writes reads quite different to either Finkelstein or Post New York Post.

More context form the Post New York Post, November 1984:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Steven Heller: "The REAL Fake News", PrintMag, June 16, 2017

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    Thank you for that clarification. I have a hard time deciphering Finkelstein's real intentions, but the 60 instead of 80 gives a hint. As a side note, is there not evidence that the bombing of Hiroshima was in fact opposed by military strategists and did not shorten the war sufficiently. I read on a philosophy blog that apparently there is new evidence that the bombings were more or less a science experiement. – Maximilian Jun 11 at 17:57
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    Note, that the letter is signed Elie Weisel, not Wiesel. – Edheldil Jun 12 at 10:53
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    @Maximilian: that would make an interesting question if you can find the blog you read that on, especially if you can locate another supporting source or two. – Denis de Bernardy Jun 12 at 14:51
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    60 vs 80 seems like just an honest misreading or typo. – Barmar Jun 12 at 23:18
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    I suspect he was just basing it on memory, not actually having a copy. – Barmar Jun 12 at 23:30
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The headline (or more specifically, a variation thereof) was used on the debut edition of the Post New York Post, a satirical take on the New York Post by Robert Vare and the same crew of satirists that also produced Not The New York Times and Off The Wall Street Journal.

enter image description here

I'm unable to locate anything about the Elie Wiesel quote from the archives, but if as the passage you quote suggests it is indeed in the same paper, then one can only assume this was satire as well. Also, as noted in LangLangC's answer, the actual headline doesn't contain the word Holocaust so the quote is likely apocryphal. See his (IMO better) answer for the details.

  • Your NYT link doesn't seem to really prove the claim. Also, see the picture. – LangLangC Jun 11 at 16:00
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    Reading into this and a bit more context from Finkelstein: NF either made up a lot or grossly misremembered, the headline. The Wiesel letter cannot be a real letter by him in the PNYP, and is probably made up by NF to extend the 'joke'! Given the liberties taken by NF and his aim in general, it stands to reason that it was invented by NF. – LangLangC Jun 11 at 16:05
  • Q: Who is "Ron"? – gerrit Jun 12 at 7:58
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    @gerrit I'm guessing Ronald Reagan. – JAD Jun 12 at 8:01
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    @gerrit, JAD given that the reference to Ron is next to a supposed quote that goes around a picture of Ronald Reagan I think that's more than safe to say. – MD-Tech Jun 12 at 11:42

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