Roald Dahl's family issues apology for late author's anti-Semitic statements: 'Incomprehensible'

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Elena Sheppard
·2 min read
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Roald Dahl's family publicly addressed the famous author's anti-Semitic beliefs. (Photo: Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Roald Dahl's family publicly addressed the famous author's anti-Semitic beliefs. (Photo: Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The family of famed children’s book author Roald Dahl, has issued an apology for his history vocal anti-Semitism.

Dahl, who wrote books including Matilda, James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, died 30 years ago, but shared anti-Semitic beliefs while he was alive.

The statement from Dahl’s family, published in a slightly buried area on the author’s website, 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. 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. 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.”

Dahl’s anti-Semitic views were expressed publicly numerous times throughout his life. In a 1983 interview with British publication The New Statesman, Dahl said, “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.”

According to NBC, in 1990, the year he died, Dahl told The Independent, “I’m certainly anti-Israeli and I’ve become anti-Semitic in as much as that you get a Jewish person in another country like England strongly supporting Zionism.”

In 2014, the Royal Mint rejected a proposal to release a commemorative coin in honor of what would have been the author’s 100th birthday. The Guardian reported the decision was based made upon the author’s history of anti-Semitism.

But the apology is a first from the Dahl family and Roald Dahl Story Company.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism put forth a statement with a spokesperson for the organization saying it was “disappointing” for the Dahl family “to have waited 30 years to make an apology.”

The spokesperson added, “The apology should have come much sooner and been published less obscurely, but the fact that it has come at all — after so long — is an encouraging sign that Dahl’s racism has been acknowledged even by those who profit from his creative works, which so many have enjoyed.”

Dahl’s work has remained wildly popular since his death. Many of his books have been turned into films and musicals, including, most recently, The Witches ,which was released earlier this year. Many believe that book was an allegory for anti-Semitism in and of itself.

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