Former US talk show host Jon Stewart accuses JK Rowling of anti-Semitism

·3-min read

Former US talk show host Jon Stewart has hit out at JK Rowling for the “anti-Semitic” imagery used in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The comedian said it was “so weird” that people had not reacted to the “Jews” running the underground wizarding bank Gringotts.

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

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child Opening Gala – Arrivals
The world-famous writer has been criticised for her views on transgender rights (Yui Mok/ PA)

Stewart discussed the scenes set in the magical bank, run by goblins, on the podcast The Problem with Jon Stewart.

“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?’” he said.

“’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, 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.”

Rosewater screening – BFI London Film Festival
Stewart said it was ‘so weird’ that people had not reacted to the ‘Jews’ running the underground wizarding bank in Harry Potter (Yui Mok/ PA)

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.”

In Rowling’s books, the goblins that run Gringott’s Bank are depicted as ill-tempered, diminutive creatures who are the guardians of the gold.

The first book describes one as “about a head shorter than Harry. He had a swarthy, clever face, a pointed beard, and Harry noticed, very long fingers and feet.”

Accusations that the characters are anti-Semitic have rumbled on for several years.

In 2020, comedian Pete Davidson, who has a Harry Potter tattoo, criticised Rowling during a Saturday Night Live segment 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.”

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.

She was featured in a recent 20th anniversary Harry Potter reunion special but only in archive video clips.

Since the films were released she has become a controversial figure over her comments on gender identity and attracted criticism from many, including franchise stars Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe.

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

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