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Jon Stewart denies accusing J.K. Rowling of anti-semitism

The comedian posted a video statement to Twitter

By Joe Goggins

Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart (Picture: Alamy)

US comedian Jon Stewart has clarified his recent comments about JK Rowling and denied suggestions that the Harry Potter is anti-semitic.

In a clip from the December 16 episode of the former radio host’s podcast, ‘The Problem with Jon Stewart’, that went viral earlier this week, he was seen drawing comparisons between the goblins that are depicted as running Gringotts bank in Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ novels and antisemitic tropes from literature. 

“Here’s how you know Jews are still where they are,” said Stewart, who is Jewish, on the podcast. “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?”

Stewart bemoaned the lack of acknowledgement of the similarity among his fellow cinema-goers, saying he expected them to “be like “holy shit, she did not, in a wizarding world, to just throw Jews in there to run the fucking underground bank.” And everybody was just like “Wizards.”

Now, in a video statement posted to social media yesterday (January 5), Stewart has moved to clarify his position. “I have to address this. This is bonkers, guys,” said the 59-year-old. “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.”

Stewart said his remarks were intended as part of a “lighthearted conversation.” They come as Rowling continues to face public pushback for her gender-critical views. This week, she was dropped as the namesake of a house at Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex, as it became the latest in a line of institutions to distance themselves from the author. Critics pointed out that her replacement, Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes, has made her own controversial comments on the transgender community in the past.

Rowling did not appear in ‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts’, a HBO documentary that reunited the key cast from the film series, which aired in the UK on New Year’s Day. A litany of prominent actors involved with Rowling adaptations, including Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, have previously voiced their opposition to the author’s views.