The Roald Dahl family has apologized for anti-Semitism in a statement buried deep in the author’s official website.
Dahl, who died 30 years ago, is described on the site as “the number 1 storyteller in the world,” whose books – including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and The BFG – have captivated children since the 1960s.
But Dahl is also an antisemite. In an interview with the New Statesman in 1983, he said: “There is a trait in the Jewish character that provokes hostility, perhaps it is some kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason anti-anything pops up anywhere. “
He added: “Even annoying people like Hitler don’t just annoy them for no reason.”
Now the family has secretly issued an apology for his comments. Their statement reads: “The Dahl Family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologize for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Roald Dahl’s statements.
“These prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in stark contrast to the people we know and the values at the heart of Roald Dahl’s story, who have had a positive impact on young people for generations.
“We hope that, as he does his best, at his worst, Roald Dahl can help remind us of the lasting influence of words.”
There is no mention of Dahl’s antisemitic views in the author’s official biography on the website. Family apologies are not sent to Jewish organizations.
Dahl was born in 1916 in Wales to Norwegian parents. During his war service in the RAF, he was seriously injured when his Gladiators landed in Libya. His first children’s book, The Gremlins, was published in 1943, followed by James and the Giant Peach in 1961, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1964 and Fantastic Mr. Fox in 1970.
He also co-wrote the screenplay for the James Bond films You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as wrote adult novels.
Many of her children’s books were adapted as films, for television and on stage. In 2018, the most recent period for which data is available, the Dahl estate posted an annual pre-tax profit of £ 12.7 million from television and cinema offerings, royalties, fancy dress costumes and an array of baby toiletries.
Earlier this year, Netflix announced that Oscar-winning director Taika Waititi was making the animated series Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and a second film about Oompa-Loompas, the factory worker in the book. In October, Warner Bros. released The Witches, a film based on Dahl’s 1983 book of the same name, starring Anne Hathaway.
In addition to his famous interview with the New Statesman, Dahl later acknowledged his antisemitism in an article in the Independent in 1990. He said: “I am definitely anti-Israel, and I am as anti-Semitic as you can. a Jew in another country like England is very supportive of Zionism. I think they have to look at both sides.
“It’s the same old thing: we all know about Jews and everything else. No non-Jewish publisher anywhere, they control the media – a very smart thing to do – which is why the president of the United States has to sell all this stuff to Israel. “
Shortly before his death, Dahl received a letter from two San Francisco kids that read: “Dear Mr. Dahl, We love your books, but we have a problem… we are Jews !! We love your books but you don’t like us because we are Jewish. It offends us! Can you change your mind about what you say about the Jews. Love, Aliza and Tamar. “
Two years ago, the Royal Mint scrapped plans to celebrate Dahl’s life with commemorative coins because of concerns about his antisemitic views. Official documents obtained by the Guardian reveal that the Royal Mint concluded that he was “not considered the highest reputable writer”.