The Gringotts Goblins and accusations of anti-Semitism (again)

On the 4th January, Newsweek broke the story that Jon Stewart a comedian and television host had accused J. K. Rowling of antisemitism due to the appearance of the Goblins in Harry Potter. Perhaps unsurprisingly in a tabloid story, within the first few paragraphs the article contradicts the headline:

Stewart said: “I do not think J.K. Rowling is antisemitic. I did not accuse her of being antisemitic. I do not think that the Harry Potter movies are antisemitic.”

This has not prevented multiple news outlets and twitter commentators of repeating the line that Rowling is an antisemite.

Dr. Beatrice Groves has convincingly rebutted the accusation in her Bathilda’s Notebook posts:  Rowling’s Goblin Problem? and The Sword Until Recently Known as Gryffindor’s. Very little can be added to this wonderful analysis, but trawling through twitter does throw up a couple of easily disprovable augments:

“There is a Star of David on the floor of Gringotts Bank!”

The Gringotts scene in Philosopher’s Stone was filmed in Australia House the home of the Australian High Commission in London. The building (and the floor) was completed in 1918 and the floor contains a Six pointed Star of Australia denoting the six states of the Commonwealth of Australia.

“J. K. Rowling wrote about ‘secretive, hook nosed, greedy bankers’, of course she was coding Jews!”

This is not the description that Rowling uses.

The goblin was about a head shorter that Harry. He had a swarthy, clever face, a pointed beard and, Harry noticed, very long fingers and feet.

J. K. Rowling has some history of calling out antisemitism where she sees it, and has been defended in this most recent attack by the Campaign Against Antisemitism.

I’ll leave the last word to Jon Stewart who it now appears is the unwilling hero of this new stick to beat Rowling with.




  1. twitter will find anything to be upset and angry about

  2. It’s absurd. I’m Jewish and never once connected the goblins to Jews. You have to be anti Semitic yourself to connect greedy, hook nosed and secretive to a Jewish person. But if you are Jewish or know Jews you will not connect that portrayal with Jewish traits!

  3. Please do an article about non-Irish people calling her out over calling an Irish character Seamus Finnigan 🤣

  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says


    You set me brainstorming with the thought that when, eventually, Seamus dies – are there wakes in the Wizarding world? Browsing around makes me wonder:

    is JKR a Mike Finnigan fan?

    are there Joycean references in HP?

    is it inanely far-fetched to compare Harry’s experience in The Deathly Hallows with the story in the ballad ‘ Finnegan’s Wake’?

    And, is there any reference to the playwright, Seamus Finnegan? In any case, in the current context, it is interesting to find the Wikipedia noting, “In 1982, at the invitation of Kariel Gardosh, the Israeli Cultural Attaché in London, Finnegan’s play James Joyce And The Israelites was performed at the First International Conference and Festival of Jewish Theater in Tel Aviv.[3] ‘An evening of undivided enjoyment… a non-Jewish play on a Jewish subject done with much understanding and sympathy’ (Jerusalem Post)” and “In the mid-nineties, Finnegan was writer in residence at Mishkenot Sha’ananim in Jerusalem, where he collaborated with Israeli dramatist Miriam Kainy on Hypatia and began work on his book about Israeli playwrights, Dialogues In Exile, with the help and support of Dani Horovitz, another Israeli dramatist .”

    Which leads to another brainstorm… do we know anything about JKR and Hypatia (with respect to Charles Kingsley’s novel, or otherwise)?

    (my apologies if I do not recall earlier discussions of any of this, here!)

  5. D.L. Dodds,

    Interesting catches, especially those between Joyce and Kingsley. Do we know anything about possible connections between Rowling and Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth”? Joseph Campbell once famously claimed that the entire play was something akin to a complete transliteration of Joyce’s “Wake”.

  6. Wow, Jon Stewart does not want to go down as the person who got Harry Potter canceled.

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