After seeing Jon Stewart claim the goblins of Gringotts Wizarding Bank are anti-Semitic and implying that J.K. Rowling is as well, Sarah Silverman described the goblins as “hook-nosed, propaganda Jews.”
Back in December, Stewart claimed on his show, The Problem With Jon Stewart, that the goblins of Harry Potter are Jews and then went on to accuse J.K. Rowling of being an anti-Semite.
Stewart said, “Can I tell you something about Harry Potter? Here’s how you know, and this is a whole thing. And you don’t have to use this, but this is true.”
“Here’s how you know like Jews are still where they are. Talking to people, what I say is, ‘Have you ever seen a Harry Potter movie?’ And people are all like, ‘I love the Harry Potter movies!’ and 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? And they’re like, ‘What?’ Jews,” Stewart claimed.
The podcast host continued, “Let me show you this. It’s from ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.’ I just want to show 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 anti-Semitic piece of literature.'”
He then specifically went after Rowling for using goblins to run a bank, “J.K. Rowling was like, ‘Can we get these guys to run our bank?’ And you’re like, ‘This is–it’s a wizarding world. It’s a world where it’s like. The train station has a half thing and no one can see it. And we can ride dragons and you’ve got a pet owl. Who should run the bank? Jews.'”
“‘Yeah, they look like Jews, but what if the teeth were sharper?’ And you’re like, ‘Oh, okay,” Stewart added.
“That was one of those things where you expect–it reminded me of those horror movies where everybody’s been taken over by the thing, but you haven’t,” recalled Stewart. “So, you’re looking around, every time someone sees you, they go, ‘Ahhhhh.’ 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, 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. Even Dobby was like, ‘That’s f—ed up. Those are Jews. Dobby’s like, ‘Dobby… Dobby doesn’t have anything against Jews. Dobby doesn’t understand.’”
Finally, Stewart concluded by suggesting a new title for the series, “Harry Potter and the Reichstag Fire.”
Stewart would eventually walk back his comments claiming, “There is no reasonable person that could’ve watched it and not seen it as a light-hearted conversation amongst colleagues and chums having a larf, enjoying ourselves about Harry Potter and my experience watching it for the first time in a theatre, 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.”
He would then declare, “So 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 anti-Semitic. I did not accuse her of being anti-Semitic. I do not think that the Harry Potter movies are anti-Semitic.”
I really love the Harry Potter movies. Probably too much for a gentleman of my considerable age. So, I would just like to say that none of that is true, and not a reasonable person could not have looked at that conversation and not found it light-hearted.
Newsweek et al, may eat my ass. pic.twitter.com/eRoYYeNRi1 
— Jon Stewart (@jonstewart) January 5, 2022 
Silverman would accuse the goblins of being Jews on The Sarah Silverman Podcast on January 6th.
She began the segment stating, “I’ve never seen Harry Potter. I just missed it. I was old when it came out already.” She went on to share the clip of Stewart accusing the films and Rowling of being anti-Semitic.
From there, she then commented on a scene from the first Harry Potter film when Harry and Hagrid enter Gringotts Wizarding Bank. She says, “They’re walking into the bank. Now, they’re in the bank, and oh my god, just a a row of hook-nosed, propaganda Jews built for real life.”
“Everything you’ve seen in Nazi propaganda of the Juden pictures are brought to life in this wizarding world,” she added.
“It’s the 20th anniversary and this is just coming up? Nobody f***ing cares. The #JewsDontCount – please read it,” Silverman stated.
She concluded, “I mean marona a mi. It’s so horrifyingly blatant. It’s like that thing where you just giggle, but it’s mostly nervousness or fear, you know? When you just go, ‘Oh my god.’ Holy f***ing s**t!”
Multiple Jewish organizations rebuked Stewart’s assertion, more than likely precipitating his massive walk back, wherein he lied about what he actually said.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism tweeted a statement that reads, “The portrayal of the goblins in the Harry Potter series is of a piece with their portrayal in literature as a whole.”
It is the product of centuries of association of Jews with grotesque and malevolent creatures in folklore, as well as money and finance. The mythological associations have become so ingrained in the Western mind that their provenance no longer registers with creators or consumers.
Those who continue to use such representations are often not thinking of Jews at all, but simply of how readers or viewers will imagine goblins to look, which is a testament more to centuries of Christendom’s antisemitism than it is to malice by contemporary artists.
“So it is with JK Rowling, who has proven herself over recent years to be a tireless defender of the Jewish community in its fight against antisemitism, for which we are immensely grateful,” the organization concluded.
Dave Rich, the director of policy at the Community Security Trust , whose mission is to “promote good relations between British Jews and the rest of British society by working towards the elimination of racism, and antisemitism in particular,” told Daily Mail , “JK Rowling has been very supportive of the Jewish community in recent years and tweeted repeatedly against antisemitism, so it is hard to imagine that she used anti-semitic caricatures in her books. Sometimes a goblin is just a goblin.”
What do you make of Silverman’s accusations against Harry Potter and its depiction of goblins?