Roald Dahl’s Family Apologizes For His Anti-Semitism

British novelist Roald Dahl, U.K., December 10 1971.
Ronald Dumont / Getty Images

The family of British author Roald Dahl — who was best-known for his children’s books — has issued an apology for his anti-Semitism.

Published on roalddahl.com, the statement acknowledged that the writer made hateful comments about the Jewish community and suggested that these remarks do not fully reflect who he was as a person.

“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.”

As The Times of Israel reported, Dahl — who died in 1990 — made anti-Semitic remarks on a number of occasions. In an interview a few months prior to his death, he openly described himself as anti-Semitic and said “we all know about Jews and the rest of it.” In the same interview, he suggested that all Jews in the United Kingdom support Israel’s policies.

The author of children’s classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory also pushed racist tropes about Jewish people, once suggesting that they “control the media” in the United States and elsewhere.

Similarly, in a 1983 interview, he made racist and hateful comments about Jews, stating that Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler “didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”

Dahl’s notorious comments resurfaced in 2016, after Walt Disney Pictures released The BFG, a film based on the author’s 1982 novel of the same name. When asked to comment on the writer’s anti-Semitism, Steven Spielberg — who directed the movie — said that he was not aware of his “personal stories.”

“I had no idea of anything that was purportedly assigned to him, that he might have said,” Spielberg, the founder of Shoah Foundation and the creator of WWII epic Schindler’s List, said at the time.

British children's author, short-story writer, playwright and versifier Roald Dahl in December 1971.
  Ronald Dumont / Getty Images

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), anti-Semitism is on the rise. In 2019, the American Jewish community experienced the highest level of racist incidents since 1979. Over 2,000 acts of assault and targeted harassment were reported across the nation. The incidents were reported in 48 states, with many of them taking place in New York, California, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

In its annual report, the ADL called on law enforcement agencies to stay vigilant and disrupt potential threats from the far-right and other extremist groups. The organization issued several recommendations, urging the U.S. Congress to hold hearings and increase funding for non-profit organizations focused on combating anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination.