Roald Dahl’s Family Apologizes for his Antisemitism

The family of children’s book author Roald Dahl has apologized for “the lasting and understanding hurt” caused by antisemitic comments he made.

Dahl was the author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Matilda,” “James and the Giant Peach” and many famous stories.

He was openly antisemitic, making several questionable comments about Jewish people in interviews and in his writing.

In 1983, Dahl told the New Statesman, “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. Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”

He also said of Jews that nobody had ever “switched so rapidly from victims to barbarous murderers.”

He claimed that the Jews owned the media and that positive American relations toward Israel was because of excessive Jewish power.

In a statement on Roald Dahl’s website, the Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company wrote an apology on behalf of Roald, who passed away in 1990.

“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.”

Last weekend, Roald’s family spoke with the Sunday Times of the UK to further address his antisemitic remarks.

“Apologising for the words of a much-loved grandparent is a challenging thing to do, but made more difficult when the words are so hurtful to an entire community,” the family said. “We loved Roald, but we passionately disagree with his antisemitic comments.”

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.”

“It is a shame that the estate has seen fit merely to apologise for Dahl’s antisemitism rather than to use its substantial means to do anything about it. 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.”

Annaliese Levy

Annaliese Levy