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Jon Stewart: JK Rowling’s depiction of goblins in Harry Potter is “anti-semitic”

He said the creatures were "caricatures" of Jewish people

By Tom Skinner

A Gringotts goblin in a still from 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'
Stewart called the fallout from his comments "bonkers". (Photo: Warner Bros.)

Jon Stewart has accused JK Rowling of antisemitism over the depiction of goblins in the ‘Harry Potter’ series.

During a recent edition of the US comedian, host and writer’s podcast ‘The Problem with Jon Stewart’, he likened the Gringotts Bank goblins to “caricatures” of Jewish people.

Stewart, who is Jewish, noted the similarities between the mythical creatures in the Potter universe and the antisemitic illustrations featured in the 1903 book ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’.

“Here’s how you know Jews are still where they are,” he said. “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! 

“I just want to show you a caricature. And they’re like, ‘Oh, look at that, that’s from Harry Potter!’” he said. “And you’re like, ‘No, that’s a caricature of a Jew from an antisemitic piece of literature’.”

Stewart continued: “JK 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 shit, [Rowling] did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the fucking underground bank’. And everybody was just like, ‘Wizards’. It was so weird.

“Even Dobby was like, ‘That’s fucked up’,” Stewart added. You can watch the full conversation in the video above.

Back in 2020, Pete Davidson criticised Rowling for putting “little giant-nosed Jew goblins” in charge of Gringotts Bank. “And I can say that because, as you can see, I’m half-goblin,” he said during an episode of ‘Saturday Night Live’.

The ‘SNL’ sketch in question was recently shared by Twitter user Rafael Shimunov as part of a viral thread, in which he responded to Jon Stewart’s comments. He noted that the YouTube comments section on the ‘Harry Potter’ bank scenes were “dominated by antisemites lavishing praise on JK Rowling”.

“In total fairness, goblin mythology as antisemitic tropes predates all of us, including JK Rowling,” Shimunov continued in a follow-up post. “But across Harry Potter novels, JK uses her freedom to reinvent almost anything. But as Jon Stewart points out, the antisemitic tropes maintained.”

He then referred to JK Rowling’s apparent anti-transgender views, which caused controversy in recent years. Several ‘Harry Potter’ stars – including Daniel Radcliffe – have condemned Rowling over her stance.

Meanwhile, HBO recently released its 20th anniversary ‘Harry Potter’ reunion special, ‘Return To Hogwarts’.