Does JK Rowling depict Jews in a problematic way in the Harry Potter franchise? American comedian and political commentator Jon Stewart says yes, she certainly does.
Stewart criticised Rowling — the author behind the acclaimed Harry Potter novels that were adapted into a film series — of creating anti-Semitic goblins in an episode of The Problem With Jon Stewart that was released in December 2021 but recently begun to gain traction online.
"Here's how you know Jews are still where they are," he says in the video. "Talking to people, what I say is 'Have you ever seen a Harry Potter movie?', and people are like 'I love Harry Potter movies'. I'm like 'You ever see the scenes in Gringotts Bank?'. They're like 'I love the scenes in Gringotts Bank'. Do you know what those folks that run the bank are? Jews!"
Stewart went on to compare the illustrations of goblins as seen in the Harry Potter movies with the anti-Semitic illustrations featured in the 1903 book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. "I just want to show you a caricature [from the book] and they're like 'Oh, look at that, that's from Harry Potter'. 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?'
"This is a wizarding world. It's a world where the train has half a thing and no one can see it, and we can ride dragons and you've got a pet owl. And who should run the bank? Jews," Stewart exclaimed.
Talking about seeing the goblins in the Harry Potter movies films, Stewart said "It was one of those things where I saw it on the screen and I was expecting the crowd to be like '[Oh no], she did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the underground bank and everyone was like 'Wizards'. It was so weird."
Rowling was previously the subject of controversy because of a string of tweets accused of being transphobic in 2020. Her remarks sparked outrage online from fans and members of the LGBT+ community.
In the Harry Potter 20th anniversary TV special that aired on January 1— which saw the reunion of stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint and other cast members from the blockbuster film franchise — Rowling did not make a personal appearance in light of the transphobia controversy.