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February 5, 2001; Monday 12:40 PM Eastern Time
GERMAN TELEVISION PULLS PLUG ON FINKELSTEIN DOCUMENTARY
by VANESSA GERA
BERLIN -- A German TV station said Monday it has put off broadcasting a documentary on an American critic of Holocaust restitution, apparently out of fear the program could be seen as promoting anti-Jewish views.
Officials at Südwestrundfunk, a regional broadcaster serving southwestern Germany, said station executives pulled the documentary on author Norman Finkelstein's theories at short notice and asked the London-based producer, Tina Mendelsohn, to make changes. The show had been scheduled to air Monday night.
Finkelstein's controversial book The Holocaust Industry argues that Jewish elites exploit those who suffered during World War II for their own "power and profit." He has described the attempt to gain compensation for Holocaust victims as an "extortion racket." The son of Holocaust survivors, Finkelstein has been criticized by some as a "self-hating Jew."
In its original version, the documentary features Finkelstein, supporters and opponents of his views as well as a brief opening clip of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.
The station said the show might "trigger unintended effects," indicating it was worried that it might be seen as encouraging extreme-right views in Germany.
SWR co-producer Martina Zöllner said the station was asking for changes to the film and would show it at a later date, but that details were still being discussed.
An influential conservative newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine, likened the decision to Soviet-era censorship.
Finkelstein is due to promote the German translation of his book in Germany this week.
He claims that Holocaust memory has developed into an industry which in turn encourages anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers. He also claims that Jews "use" the Holocaust to enhance Israel's status and create immunity against criticism of Israeli treatment of Palestinians.
Copyright 2001 Associated Press