Washington Post Ignores Roald Dahl’s Own Admission of Antisemitism

The author Roald Dahl once flatly told an interviewer from The Independent that “I am certainly anti-Israel, and I have become anti-Semitic.” Yet, in a recent article at the Washington Post, Dahl’s open acknowledgement is ignored and instead his lengthy record of simultaneous hostility to both the Jewish state and the Jewish people is couched in terms of “many felt” his “‘anti-Israeli’ ‘political views” were “a cover for antisemitism.”

Despite being about a man who openly made statements like “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity,” the entirety of the article’s discussion of Dahl’s hatred of Jews is contained in just these two sentences:

“The depiction of Veruca Salt’s father, in that same book, sails close to Jewish stereotypes. Not least, while Dahl defended his notorious “anti-Israeli” political views as justifiable anger over that nation’s treatment of the Palestinian people, many felt this argument was a cover for antisemitism.”

It’s a grossly misleading account of the issue.

For one, antisemitic caricatures barely scratches the surface. Dahl didn’t hide his hatred behind stereotyped characters, as many other antisemites have in an attempt to give themselves plausible deniability. Dahl, as the opening quote shows, fully admitted he was antisemitic. In addition to referring to Jewish traits that “provoke animosity,” Dahl claimed the United States was “utterly dominated by the great Jewish financial institutions.” The author also made statements about the Jewish people, such as: “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.”

The bizarre choice by the reporter to cite a character in a Dahl book “sail[ing] close to Jewish stereotypes” as the example of his hatred of Jews dramatically understates the extent and intensity of the author’s bigotry.

But the description of Dahl’s antisemitism controversies suffers from another problem. It suggests that beyond questionable characters in his books, Dahl’s relevant comments were just about his “anti-Israeli political views,” and that some felt it was just a cover for antisemitism.

Dahl didn’t criticize Israel to cover for antisemitism. Dahl used overt antisemitism while attacking the Jewish state. The opening quote, once again, demonstrates this, that he connected his “anti-Israel” views with his hatred of Jews. It’s also made apparent in some of Dahl’s other notorious antisemitic comments. For example, he claimed Israeli military activities in Lebanon were “very much hushed up in the newspapers because they are primarily Jewish-owned.”

Dahl continued: “There aren’t any non-Jewish publishers anywhere, they control the media – jolly clever thing to do – that’s why the president of the United States has to sell all this stuff to Israel.”

Ignoring all this, the Washington Post’s portrayal of Dahl suggests that there could be some dispute as to whether he was antisemitic or not, that it could just be people seeing a stereotyped character where there was no intent, or that he may have just been engaging in legitimate criticism of Israel. The actual record, however, shows that Dahl’s antisemitism was about as subtle as a sledgehammer, and his hatred of Israel was steeped in his hatred of the Jewish people.

So, why does the Post so aggressively avert its journalistic gaze and conceal the facts from readers? The truth has been widely reported elsewhere in the media and the family of Dahl themselves have apologized “for the lasting and understandable hurt” caused.

The Post seemingly can’t get much of anything right on Jew-hatred – and this instance underscores the glaring depth of the problem.

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