During a recent podcast, Stewart had on a guest who joked about which chapter of “Harry Potter” a Bar Mitzvah occurred in.
“Here’s how you know Jews are still where they are,” Stewart explained on the 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!”
He joked that one could show a person an illustration from the notorious 1903 anti-Semitic text, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” and “Harry Potter” fans would assume it’s a sketch from the hit book and film franchise. That’s when he called out Rowling directly for the inclusion.
“J.K. 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. But what if the teeth were sharper?” he joked.
On Wednesday, Stewart took to Twitter, posting a four-minute clip where he followed up on his podcast comments, explaining: “There is no reasonable person that could have watched it and not seen it as a light-hearted conversation amongst colleagues and chums having a laugh, enjoying ourselves about Harry Potter and my experience watching it for the first time in the theater as a Jewish guy and how some tropes are so embedded in society that they’re basically invisible, even in a considered process like movie making” Stewart said.
He added: “Let me just say this, super clearly, as clearly as I can… Hello, my name is Jon Stewart. I do not think J.K. Rowling is antiemetic. I did not accuse her of being antiemetic. I do not think that the Harry Potter movies are antiemetic. I really love the Harry Potter movies, probably too much for a gentleman of my considerable age.”
In his initial podcast, Stewart stated: “It was one of those things where I saw it on the screen and I was expecting the crowd to be like, ‘Holy s—, she did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the f—ing underground bank!’ And everybody was just like, ‘wizards.’ It was so weird.”
J.K. Rowling has not commented publicly on the matter. In addition to Stewart’s comments about the goblins in “Harry Potter,” she is also facing severe backlash from the transgender community after comments she made on social media and in a subsequent blog post landed her the label of a “TERF,” an acronym which stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” In essence, it’s a term applied to women who support feminism but do not count transgender women as women.
Although Rowling hasn’t commented, her agent, Neil Blair, took to Twitter to blast Stewart’s comments as “bs” and demand an apology.
In addition, charity group Campaign Against Antisemitism issued a statement in defense of the author in which it notes that the portrayal of goblins in the movies likely does stem from “grotesque and malevolent creatures in folklore” associated with the Jewish people. However, in modern Western society, the organization argues, they are merely considered the norm when it comes to depicting the mythical creatures.