Comedian Baddiel highlights author’s anti-Semitic words
ROALD Dahl Day was marked with a giant Lego peach in his Cardiff hometown yesterday – but not everyone was celebrating, due to a row over the writer’s anti-Semitic remarks.
The late world-famous children’s author has his September 13 birthday marked every year with special events around the UK.
This year’s is the first since a massive weekend of events took over Cardiff last year to mark the centenary of birth of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory writer in the Llandaff area of the capital.
But yesterday’s commemorations saw comedian David Baddiel saying he wouldn’t be celebrating Roald Dahl Day because of offensive comments made by the author.
Baddiel, 53, referenced a quote from 1983 which was attributed to Dahl.
Sharing the quote on Twitter, Baddiel said: “Though a massive fan of his work, I won’t be celebrating #RoaldDahlDay”.
The quote reads: “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity.
“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 comments were first reported in the New Statesman.
An interview with The Independent seven years later further stoked the controversy, when Dahl was quoted as saying: “I’m certainly anti-Israel and I’ve become anti-Semitic inasmuch as that you get a Jewish person in another country like England strongly supporting Zionism.”
In an exchange on Twitter after publishing Dahl’s comment, novelist and presenter Baddiel – whose maternal grandparents were Jewish and fled the Holocaust – added: “I remain a massive fan of his work.”
Roald Dahl Day typically sees schools choosing to have fancy dress days to celebrate the characters created in his books. Dahl, who died in 1990 at the age of 74, penned some of the bestknown children’s books of the 20th century, including Fantastic Mr Fox, The Twits and Matilda.
Last year’s weekend of celebrations in Cardiff – dubbed City of the Unexpected – saw a tightrope-walking fox, a giant peach and many thousands of performers take to the streets as part of the event.
Yesterday’s commemoration saw unique Lego models of his young heroine Matilda from the book of the same name, Sophie from The BFG, James from James and the Giant Peach, Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Billy from Billy and the Minpins and George from George’s Marvellous Medicine placed at sites around the UK.
James appeared at Cardiff Castle, Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre in London, George at Nottingham Railway Station, Billy at the Eden Project in Cornwall, Sophie at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and Charlie at the Manchester Central Library.