Matilda Author Roald Dahl’s Family Apologizes For His Anti-Semitism 30 Years After His Death
The family of Roald Dahl, author of children’s books such as Matilda, James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, have issued an apology for the author’s anti-Semitism 30 years after his death.
“The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologise for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Roald Dahl’s statements,” the family’s statement reads. “Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we knew and to the values at the heart of Roald Dahl’s stories, which have positively impacted young people for generations.”
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Adding, “We hope that, just as he did at his best, at his absolute worst, Roald Dahl can help remind us of the lasting impact of words.” In 1983, Dahl told Britain’s New Statesman that Jewish people had a character flaw the provoked hostility in others.
“There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean there is always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason,” he said.
The author doubled down on his statement in an interview in The Guardian in 1990, the year he died. “I’m certainly anti-Israeli and I’ve become antisemitic in as much as that you get a Jewish person in another country like England strongly supporting Zionism. We all know about Jews and the rest of it. There aren’t any non-Jewish publishers anywhere, they control the media.”
In recent years, many have questioned the meaning behind his stories as a result of those statements. A number of Jewish advocacy groups said the apology was long overdue and lamented that it was limited to a single statement buried on his website. The Board of Deputies of British Jews stated, “This apology should have happened long ago – and it is of concern that it has happened so quietly now. Roald Dahl’s abhorrent antisemitic prejudices were no secret and have tarnished his legacy.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said, “The admission that the famous author’s antisemitic views are ‘incomprehensible’ is right. For his family and estate to have waited thirty years to make an apology, apparently until lucrative deals were signed with Hollywood, is disappointing and sadly rather more comprehensible.”
In 2018, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Netflix had reportedly paid $1 billion for the rights to Dahl’s stories.
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