Family of famous author Roald Dahl apologizes for his anti-Semitism

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The late British author Roald Dahl and his wife, actress Patricia Neal, in New York. Dec. 10, 1968. (AP/Dave Pickoff)

British author of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ was also known for anti-Semitic and anti-Israel outbursts.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The family of famous British author Roald Dahl published an apology for anti-Semitic comments he made years before his death in 1990.

In a short statement on the Roald Dahl website titled “Apology for anti-Semitic comments made by Roald Dahl,” the family tried to clear up a part of Dahl’s ugly past in which on different occasions he repeated anti-Semitic tropes and fired anti-Semitic insults at Israel.

“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,” the statement said. “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.”

In an interview with the New Statesman in 1983, Dahl said: “There’s 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.”

In another article that year in The Spectator, Dahl railed against Israel’s military actions in Lebanon in 1982, saying the Jews as “a race of people” had never “switched so rapidly from victims to barbarous murderers.” Dahl went on to say that America was “so utterly dominated by the great Jewish financial institutions” that “they dare not defy” Israel.

The rationale behind the quietly issued family statement was questioned by Britain’s largest and oldest Jewish national Jewish organization.

“This apology should have happened long ago – and it is of concern that it has happened so quietly now,” the Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl said in a statement.

“Roald Dahl’s abhorrent anti-Semitic prejudices were no secret and have tarnished his legacy,” van der Zyl said, adding, “The apology should be restated on the questionable Roald Dahl Day on 13 September,” Dahl’s birthday, which is marked in Great Britain and several other countries.

The Board called on the Dahl family to teach new generations about tolerance.

“As well as recognizing his undeniable impact on children’s literature, teaching of Dahl’s books should also be used as an opportunity for young people to learn about his intolerant views,” van der Zyl noted.

Dahl was a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force and was stationed during World War II in the Middle East, where he crashed and was seriously wounded with a fractured skull, but he recovered and returned to active duty. He shot down several Nazi aircraft and was stationed in Haifa before recurring symptoms from the crash forced him to stop flying. He spent the rest of the war in diplomacy and espionage, working at one point with author Ian Fleming.

Dahl was a prolific writer of children’s books and adult stories, many of which were adapted for the screen or television. The two most well-known were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the screenplay for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, written by Fleming, the creator of the James Bond 007 character.

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