The Web search engine Google drew fire today for decorating its home page in a motif that honored a children's author who has drawn accusations of anti-Semitism, Roald Dahl, on the first day of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.
Google returned its page to the default logo by 2 p.m. after contributors to Web logs criticized the timing of the decoration, which also coincides with the birthday of Dahl.
The company acknowledged that it took down the decoration — known as a Google Doodle — in response to complaints raised by members of the Jewish community.
"Google has decided to remove its Doodle of Roald Dahl based on user concerns," a spokeswoman for Google said in a statement.
While the spokeswoman declined to comment on the source of complaints, people posting this morning on Web logs, including a site hosted by the Times of London, were critical of the company for its timing.
Google-owned Web properties became the most-visited sites on the Internet earlier this year, attracting about 552 million unique visitors worldwide in July, according to the Web tracking service comScore.
Dahl, who died in 1990, was the author of such popular children's books as "James and the Giant Peach" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
A native of Wales, Dahl was accused of anti-Semitism in the 1980s after he wrote a book review in which he was highly critical of Israel's invasion of Lebanon, saying he was "anti- Israel," according to press reports.
"Never before has a state generated so much sympathy around the world and then, in the space of a lifetime, succeeded in turning that sympathy into hatred and revulsion," he wrote in the review of the book "God Cried," according to a 1983 article in the New York Times. "It is as though a group of much-loved nuns in charge of an orphanage had suddenly turned around and started murdering all the children."
The remarks caused a stir in Israel, where a television network canceled a popular program that dramatized some of Dahl's writings, claiming he made strong anti-Semitic statements.
Posted this morning, the logo on Google's home page depicted cartoons that evoked Dahl's books, including a chocolate bar, a large peach, and a child reading books. The Web giant frequently adds a theme to its home page to mark anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and special events.