Jon Stewart is setting the record straight after a recent episode of his podcast “The Problem with Jon Stewart”, where he jokingly took the “Harry Potter” series to task for what he called an “anti-Semitic” depiction of goblin bankers.
“There is no reasonable person who could have watched and not seen it as a light-hearted conversation,” Stewart said in a new video.
Newsweek et al, may eat my ass. pic.twitter.com/eRoYYeNRi1
— Jon Stewart (@jonstewart) January 5, 2022
“Let me just say this as clearly as I can,” Stewart continued. “I do not think J.K. Rowling is anti-Semitic, I did not accuse her of being anti-Semitic, 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.”
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In the original podcast episode, Stewart teased, “Here’s how you know Jews are still where they are,” referring to the anti-Semitic text “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and noting the resemblance between its depiction of Jewish characters to the goblins in Rowling’s books and films.
Talking about readers not knowing the reference, Stewart said, “I just want to show you a caricature. And they’re like, ‘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?’”
He also pointed out that the “Harry Potter” series features a make-believe world with dragons and pet owls, but, “Who should run the bank? Jews.”
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Stewart continued, “It was one of those things where I saw it on the screen and I was expecting the crowd to be like, ‘Holy s**t, she [Rowling] did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the f**king underground bank.’ And everybody was just like, ‘Wizards.’ It was so weird.”
On the flip side, Dave Rich, the director of policy at Jewish charity the Community Security Trust, told The Hollywood Reporter that he doesn’t “believe J.K. Rowling is an anti-Semite or is responsible for creating anti-Semitic caricatures.”
“There is nothing in her record to suggest that she holds anti-Semitic views: quite the opposite in fact as she has spoken out consistently and repeatedly in support of the Jewish community and against anti-Semitism, 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 anti-Semitic depictions of Jews (you could do the same for vampires), but that doesn’t make every goblin an anti-Semitic caricature,” he explained.
Stewart is not the first to accuse the series of anti-Semitism for its depiction of the goblins, but Rowling has not addressed the issue.