Charity calls JK Rowling 'defender of Jewish community' amid anti-Semitic Goblin row

5 January 2022, 17:49 | Updated: 5 January 2022, 20:40

JK Rowling's portrayal of the goblins in Harry Potter has been branded antisemitic
JK Rowling's portrayal of the goblins in Harry Potter has been branded antisemitic. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

A charity has defended JK Rowling amid an anti-Semitism row sparked by the depiction of goblins in the Harry Potter film series.

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The world famous author came under fire for her use of the fantasy creatures as those who run the wizard bank Gringotts.

In the Harry Potter books, the goblins that run the bank are depicted as ill-tempered, diminutive creatures who are the guardians of the gold.

US comedian Jon Stewart had said it was "so weird" that people had not reacted to the "Jews" running the underground bank branding the creatures as a "caricature of a Jew from an anti-Semitic piece of literature".

However, he has now denied accusing Rowling of anti-Semitism saying on the podcast The Problem with Jon Stewart: "I do not think JK Rowling is anti-Semitic, I did not accuse her of being anti-Semitic, I do not think that 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 just want to say that none of that is true and and not a reasonable person could not have looked at that conversation and not found it lighthearted."

The former talk show host had previously said on his podcast: "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!

"Let me show this - it's the Protocols of the Elders of Zion [an anti-Semitic text], I just want to show you a caricature, and they're like, 'Oh, that's from 'Harry Potter.'

"And you're like, 'No, that's a caricature of a Jew from an anti-Semitic piece of literature.'

"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."

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Describing watching the film in the cinema he added: "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, [Rowling] did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the f*****g underground bank.'

"And everybody was just like, 'Wizards'. It was so weird."

Rowling, who has previously spoken out publicly against anti-Semitism, had an active involvement in the film series and has a producer credit on the final two, as well as the Fantastic Beasts spin-offs.

But the Campaign Against Antisemitism took to Twitter this afternoon to defend the author, praising JK Rowling for being a "tireless defender" of the Jewish Community.

They said: "The portrayal of the goblins in the Harry Potter series is of a piece with their portrayal in Western literature as a whole.

"It is the product of centuries of association of Jews with grotesque and malevolent creatures in folklore, as well as money and finance.

"The mythological associations have become so ingrained in the western mind that their provenance no longer registers with creators or consumers.

"Those who continue to use such representations are often not thinking of Jews at all but simply how readers or viewers will imagine goblins to look, which is a testament more to centuries of Christendom's antisemitism than it is to malice by contemporary artists.

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"So it is with JK Rowling, who has proven herself over recent years to be a tireless defender of the Jewish community in its fight against antisemitism, for which we are immensely grateful."

In 2020, comedian Pete Davidson also criticised Rowling when asked if he has been surprised by some of the author's comments about transgender issues.

He replied: "Yeah at first, but then I started thinking about the fantastical world she created.

"The woods are controlled by centaurs, the schools are run by wizards and ghosts.

"But who controls the banks? Jews, obviously. Little giant-nosed Jew goblins."

It comes as the world-famous writer faces further backlash for her views on transgender rights.

Today, a performing arts school in Essex dropped its 'Rowling' house name over the author's stance on transgender issues, but renamed it after Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes - who herself has voiced controversial opinions about trans people.

JK Rowling has been at the centre of a row about her views on trans people for over a year. In 2020 she tweeted criticising an article for avoiding using the word "women", and instead opting for "people who menstruate".

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The Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex said in a newsletter it had received numerous requests to scrap the 'Rowling' name and had axed it, saying her views on trans people "do not align with our school policy and school beliefs – a place where people are free to be".

Representatives for Rowling said the author would not be commenting on Stewart's remarks.