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The family of Roald Dahl, who penned the children’s classics “Matilda” and “James and the Giant Peach,” has quietly apologized for the late writer’s “prejudiced” anti-Semitic comments.
Dahl, who died at age 74 in 1990, had made offensive declarations in several interviews, including a 1983 interview with The New Statesman, reports The Sunday Times of London.
“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,” Dahl said. “Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”
In 1990, 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.”
Even some of Dahl’s characters are considered anti-Semitic portrayals, including the large-nosed child snatcher he added in his screenplay of Ian Fleming’s classic “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
Dahl’s relatives posted their apology on the author’s website. The statement isn’t dated and wasn’t sent to any Jewish groups or promoted publicly.
“The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologise [sic] 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…,” the apology reads. “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 a statement to the Sunday Times, the family members acknowledged both their love for Dahl and the pain he caused.
“Apologising [sic] 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. We loved Roald, but we passionately disagree with his anti-Semitic comments….These comments do not reflect what we see in his work – a desire for the acceptance of everyone equally – and were entirely unacceptable. We are truly sorry.”