Netflix, a media conglomerate with ties to former president Barack Obama, announced on Wednesday its acquisition of British author Roald Dahl's estate and promised to produce "a unique universe across animated and live action films and TV, publishing, games, immersive experiences, live theatre, consumer products and more."
In addition to authoring such classics as Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dahl was a virulent anti-Semite who would have already been ruthlessly canceled by woke scolds if his bigotry had been directed at any other vulnerable minority.
Dahl, who served as a fighter pilot and intelligence officer during World War II, would go on to discharge a series of anti-Semitic tirades beginning in the early 1980s until several months before his death in 1990, when the author acknowledged he had "become [anti-Semitic] inasmuch as that you get a Jewish person in another country like England strongly supporting Zionism."
In a published review of a picture book about the Israeli-Lebanon War of 1982, Dahl lamented how the Jews had "switched so rapidly from victims to barbarous murderers" after the Holocaust, and compared Israeli Jews to German Nazis. "It is like the good old Hitler and Himmler times all over again," Dahl wrote.
"Must Israel, like Germany, be brought to her knees before she learns how to behave in this world?" Dahl asked rhetorically, while accusing the United States of being "utterly dominated by the great Jewish financial institutions," a common anti-Semitic trope.
In a series of subsequent interviews, Dahl took his already considerable anti-Semitism to new heights, telling the New Statesman in 1983 that Hitler might have been onto something. "There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity," he said. "Even a stinker like Hitler didn't just pick on them for no reason."
In the same interview, Dahl suggested Jews enabled the Holocaust by refusing to fight back. "I mean, if you and I were in a line moving towards what we knew were gas chambers, I'd rather have a go at taking one of the guards with me; but they [the Jews] were always submissive," he said.
Speaking to The Independent in 1990, Dahl suggested that Israeli war crimes were covered up by "Jewish-owned newspapers" and complained that 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."
Evidence of Dahl's anti-Semitism dates back to the 1940s. His first novel, published in 1948, includes a passage about "a little pawnbroker in Houndsditch called Meatbein who, when the wailing started, would rush downstairs to the large safe in which he kept his money, open it and wriggle inside on to the lowest shelf where he lay like a hibernating hedgehog until the all-clear had gone." A short story published in 1945 follows a group of Royal Air Force pilots in their quest to liberate some Egyptian prostitutes from their brothel madame, "a filthy old Syrian Jewess."
As recently as 2014, Dahl was considered problematic enough for the Royal Mint to cancel production of a commemorative coin to honor his birth because he was thought to be "associated with anti-Semitism and not regarded as an author of the highest reputation." In December 2020, Dahl's family formally apologized for the author's "incomprehensible" anti-Semitic statements, which had caused "lasting and understandable hurt." The apology was published more than two years after the Dahl estate signed its first Netflix deal and less than a year before the recently announced acquisition.