UK Jewish group slams Netflix deal with Roald Dahl estate

Celebrated British author of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" was also known for making anti-Semitic remarks.

Dan Verbin, Canada ,


A leading UK Jewish group slammed a Netflix deal with the estate of the late British author Roald Dahl, who notoriously made anti-Semitic comments during an interview in the early 1980s.

The estate of the beloved author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda” went as far as to apologize in December 2020 for historical anti-Semitic comments made by Dahl in a 1983 interview with New Statesman magazine.

Only days after the deal was announced, the Board of Deputies, the largest Jewish community group in the UK, did not mice words when criticizing Netflix for giving a platform to the stories and characters created by the author, who died in 1990.

“The virulent anti-Semitism of Roald Dahl is well-known, and has sadly marred the full enjoyment of his works for many Jewish (and other) people,” said Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl in a statement.

“We do not believe that Netflix should be prefacing every film and TV series it adapts from Dahl’s works with disclaimers about his bigotry. However, we fear that, as part of Netflix’s stated plans to create a ‘unique universe’ around his works, a by-product of that may be to present Dahl – whether on-screen or off it – as some sort of paragon of kindness and virtue.”

Van Der Zyl said that to “avoid such an approach,” Netflix should release a documentary “fully exploring the anti-Semitism that so tarnishes Dahl’s legacy.”

She added: “Failure to do so will not go unnoticed.”

On Wednesday, Netflix announced that it had acquired the rights to the Roald Dahl Story Co., the company that manages the author’s work.

It did not go unnoticed that Neflix waited to make the acquisition until the public apology by the Dahl estate for the author’s anti-Semitic statements.

On Roald Dahl’s official website, a statement by the family reads: “The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologize for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by Roald Dahl’s anti-Semitic 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.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Simchat Torah and Shmini Atzeret in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)