Is Harry Potter really anti-Semitic? Jon Stewart explains his side
by Jaskiran Kaur | Sun, 09 Jan 2022 05:21:08 GMT
Image Source: Forbes, Yahoo, Jewish News

In its over two decades of run time, Harry Potter has become a cultural phenomenon, with hundreds of millions of people drawing inspiration and hope from the films. Not only are the films the best part of the wizarding world franchise, but there is also a whole original collection of books on which the films are based. Additionally, there are Fantastic Beasts books and the subsequently arising film franchise based on it. 

Despite the mass popularity of the wizarding world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts, there is the issue of J. K. Rowling being a bit problematic. The author had previously faced criticism from her fans and also the Harry Potter stars for her seemingly transphobic comments. While the author did try playing off her remarks, there was no satisfactory reason that she could provide for her transphobic comments. 

Now that that particular issue has cooled down a little, the author is once again in hot water for being 'anti-semitic.'  Apparently Newsweek reported that comedian Jon Stewart thinks that the Harry Potter franchise by J. K . Rowling is 'anti-semitic.' The celeb shared his views on the matter on his podcast "The Problem with Jon Stewart” that was issued last year in December. 

Seemingly, the star thinks that the portrayal of the goblins in the film series takes after the horrendous presentation of Jews in anti-semitic literature. In the now-viral video, the star said that the goblins from the film look like the caricatures of Jews as seen in “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a book from 1903. However, the celeb quickly backed down on his claims and went on to say that he does not think that the author is anti-semitic and that his original remarks from the podcast were just for some "lighthearted fun."

“I do not think J.K. Rowling is antisemitic. I did not accuse her of being antisemitic,” said Stewart. “I do not think the ‘Harry Potter’ movies are antisemitic." He said that the film is great, and he himself loves the franchise, despite not being a child, "I really love the ‘Harry Potter’ movies, probably too much for a gentleman of my considerable age.” He emphasized his statement of not accusing Rowling of antisemitism, and said, “I cannot stress this enough. I am not accusing J.K. Rowling of being antisemitic.” 

Relieving the author of any responsibility of using the description of the characters as she did, and if they were actually based on the illustrations he previously mentioned in the podcast, Stewart added, “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__king grip.” The reps of the author have already stated that Rowling will not address the controversy in any way. 

The star also added that he did not mean the matter to gain so much heat as it did and that he originally talked about it just for  “a lighthearted conversation amongst colleagues and chums.” He added that many media platforms had blown his initial comments out of proportion and “piled into this ridiculously out of context nonsense.” 

He also added, “This morning I wake up, it’s trending on Twitter, and here’s the headline … ‘Jon Stewart accuses JK Rowling of antisemitism.’' Hence, he stated, “So let me just say this super clearly, as clearly as I can. Hello, my name is Jon Stewart. I do not think JK Rowling is antisemitic."

Being a Jew, the star actually does have the right to express his thoughts of the portrayal of the goblins and them being in charge of banks, which is presently a great stereotype. 

He had initiated the talk of the goblins looking like Jewish illustrations from antisemitic literature to hold a conversation about the matter. He added, “Having a laugh, enjoying ourselves about Harry Potter and my experience watching for the first time in the theater as a Jewish guy and how some tropes are so embedded in society that they’re basically invisible even in a considered process like movie-making."

The trouble for the former talk show host started when the star talked about the owners of the Gringotts banks, how they were run by goblins, and how the author had likened them to Jews shown in antisemitic literature, and as the “folks that run the bank”.

In his December podcast, Stewart had said, “Here’s how you know Jews are still where they are. Talking to people, here’s what I say: Have you ever seen a ‘Harry Potter’ movie? Have you ever seen the scenes in Gringotts Bank? Do you know what those folks who run the bank are? Jews! And they’re like, ‘Oh,  from Harry Potter!’ And you’re like, ‘No, that’s a caricature of a Jew from an antisemitic piece of literature.’"

He continued, "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?” The goblins in the wizarding world are known for their short stature and even shorter tempers, deceiving nature, and excessive attachment to their gold. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone describe the first goblin Harry saw as “about a head shorter than Harry. He had a swarthy, clever face, a pointed beard, and Harry noticed very long fingers and feet”.