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Roald Dahl’s family apologises for Welsh children author’s antisemitism

06 Dec 2020 2 minutes Read
Roald Dahl. Picture by Jürgen Wieshoff.

The family of children’s author Roald Dahl has issued an apology for his antisemitism.

Dahl, who was born in Cardiff to Norwegian parents, and wrote several bestsellers including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and The BFG, had a history of making antisemitic remarks.

Wales has made much of its connection with the author – including naming the public space outside the Senedd building the Roald Dahl Plass.

The family’s statement, “apology for anti-Semitic comments made by Roald Dahl” describes the “prejudiced remarks” as “incomprehensible” and apologises for “the lasting and understandable hurt” they caused. It is buried deep in the author’s website, and has been signed by the Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company.

The author, who died 30 years ago, said interview with the New Statesman in 1983: “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’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere.”

He added: “Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”

In an article in the Independent in 1990, he said: “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. I think they should see both sides.

“It’s the same old thing: we all know about Jews and the rest of it. There aren’t any non-Jewish publishers anywhere, they control the media – jolly clever thing to do – that’s why the president of the United States has to sell all this stuff to Israel.”

 

‘Apology’

The family has now quietly issued an apology for comments such as these.

The statement says: “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.

“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.”

 

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