A recent episode of the late-night show host’s podcast, The Problem with Jon Stewart, has begun making headlines for his takedown of the Gringotts Bank goblins, which he believes are depicted as Jewish “caricatures” in the series.
Stewart’s argument – that Rowling perpetuates anti-Jew stereotypes in Harry Potter – was based on the similarities between the books’ goblin creatures and an illustration from an antisemitic text,The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, published in 1903.
Stewart, who is Jewish, said most Harry Potter fans were unaware of the reference, while expressing confusion over the lack of outrage over the Gringotts’ goblin bankers in the movies.
“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 antisemitic piece of literature.’”, the Emmy winning host explained.
In a world where “you can have a pet owl” and “we can ride dragons”, Stewart continued, “JK Rowling was like, ‘Can we get these guys to run our bank?’”
Rowling’s representatives declined to comment when approached by The Independent.
Stewart is not the first person to bring attention to the goblin characters in Rowling’s books.
In 2020, Saturday Night Live! star Pete Davidson criticised the author for putting “little giant-nosed Jew goblins” in charge of the wizarding bank.
“And I can say that because, as you can see, I’m half-goblin,” the comedian joked, during the “Weekend Update” segment on an SNL episode which aired on 10 October 2020.
The podcast episode, which aired in December 2021, has made recent headlines after Twitter user Rafael Shimunov shared the now-viral video from Stewart’s podcast.
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In one of the threaded posts, Shimunov noted: “In total fairness, goblin mythology as antisemitic tropes predate all of us, including JK Rowling. But across Harry Potter novels, JK uses her freedom to reinvent almost anything. But as Jon Stewart points out, the antisemitic tropes maintained.”
The tweet has received over 8,000 likes since it was posted on 3 January 2022.
In 2018, Rowling was dubbed “one of the staunchest allies of the Jews” by the Jewish feminist publication Hey Alma, after the British author began calling antisemitism out online amid rising intolerance in the UK.
One of her tweets at the time read: “How dare you tell a Jew that their outrage is ‘patently synthetic’? How dare you demand that they lay bare their pain and fear on demand, for your personal evaluation?”
“What other minority would you speak to this way?”