Jewish comedian and TV host Jon Stewart recently claimed the goblin characters in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are meant to be stand-ins for Jews.
“Here’s how you know Jews are still where they are,” he said on his Apple TV+ show last month. “Talking to people, I say: ‘You ever see a Harry Potter movie?’ And people are like, ‘I love the Harry Potter movies!’ And I’m like, ‘You ever see the scenes in Gringotts Bank?’ And they’re like, ‘I love the scenes in Gringott’s Bank!’ And I go, ‘Do you know what those folks who run the bank are?’ And they’re like, ‘What?’ And I’m like, ‘Jews!’”
Stewart went on:
And I’ll say, ‘Let me show you this from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I just want to show you a caricature.’ And they go, ‘Oh, look at that, that’s from Harry Potter!’ And you’re like, ‘No, that’s a caricature of a Jew from an anti-Semitic piece of literature.’ J.K. Rowling was like, ‘Can we get these guys to run our bank?’ … It’s a wizarding world … we can ride dragons, you can have a pet owl … but who should run the bank? Jews, … but what if the teeth were sharper?”
It was one of those things where I saw it on the screen and I was expecting the crowd to be like, ‘Holy sh**, she did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the f***ing underground bank. And everybody was just like, ‘Wizards.’ It was so weird.
Jewish journalist and political commentator Yascha Maunk expressed doubt about the sincerity of these sudden charges of antisemitic bigotry against Rowling, suggesting that they stem from Hollywood’s displeasure with her views on a separate topic.
“J. K. Rowling is not an antisemite. And the ease with which major voices and legacy media outlets are smearing her as one because they dislike her stance on a different issue is truly dystopian,” he tweeted in apparent reference to the criticism leveled against the author for her recent comments about the transgender movement.
To that point, The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro pointed out that Stewart has never condemned or even criticized the openly anti-semitic comments of his “Daily Show” successor Trevor Noah.
As reported by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Noah’s past anti-Jewish comments include:
- Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man. #BeatsByDreidel.”
- Messi gets the ball and the real players try foul him, but Messi doesn’t go down easy, just like jewish chicks. #ElClasico.”
- South Africans know how to recycle like Israel knows how to be peaceful.”
- Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing the road, but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car.
Instead, when Noah’s comments were uncovered, Stewart asked Comedy Central viewers to give the new host a chance. “I do hope you give him the opportunity to earn that trust and respect,” he said, adding, “My experience with him is that he is an incredibly thoughtful and considerate and funny and smart individual. I think, you give him that time, and it’s going to be well worth it. I’m excited for where he’s going to take the thing.”
Dave Rich, director of policy at Jewish charity the Community Security Trust, echoed Maunk and Shapiro’s views, telling The Hollywood Reporter: “I don’t believe J.K. Rowling is an antisemite or is responsible for creating antisemitic caricatures. There is nothing in her record to suggest that she holds antisemitic views: quite the opposite in fact as she has spoken out consistently and repeatedly in support of the Jewish community and against antisemitism, when there was no need for her to do so. Consequently I think in this case, her goblins are just goblins. Now, we could have a fascinating discussion about whether the traditional depictions of goblins in European culture have been subliminally influenced by antisemitic depictions of Jews (you could do the same for vampires), but that doesn’t make every goblin an antisemitic caricature.”
Once his comments about Rowling began garnering significant media attention, Stewart backtracked, claiming he did not call Rowling anti-semitic and saying he’s personally a fan of Harry Potter and doesn’t believe Rowling is an anti-Jewish bigot.
“I do not think J.K. Rowling is anti-semitic. I did not accuse her of being anti-semitic,” he said in a video statement posted to Twitter. “I do not think the ‘Harry Potter’ movies are anti-semitic. I really love the ‘Harry Potter’ movies, probably too much for a gentleman of my considerable age.”
“I cannot stress this enough. I am not accusing J.K. Rowling of being anti-semitic. She need not answer to any of it. I don’t want the ‘Harry Potter’ movies censored in any way. It was a lighthearted conversation. Get a f****** grip.”
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