For most British Jews she is a heroine
Life has a habit of surprising us, and if you’d asked me a few days ago what the hot topic for this week would be, I would have given you long odds against goblins.
But a combination of US comedian Jon Stewart and the desperation of some people to find any stick with which to beat JK Rowling means I have spent the past couple of days debating the origins and meaning of the goblins in Harry Potter.
To recap: last month Jon Stewart recorded a podcast, in which he made a throwaway remark about what he said were antisemitic stereotypes in Harry Potter. He singled a scene in one of the films where Harry Potter walks into a bank as stereotyping Jews:
Stewart also implied the story deliberately stereotyped Jews, saying:
I am not going to get into a discussion about the iconography of goblins, save to say that sometimes a goblin is just…a goblin. Besides, whatever visual impression Mr Stewart may have had from the film, JK Rowling neither directed nor designed it; and there is nothing in any of the books that is even glancingly antisemitic.
The reality is that none of this is actually about goblins or even about Harry Potter. It’s about feminism and the ideological obsession of those who consider sex to be a construct rather than a biological fact.
In truth, the only interesting part of this mini-saga is what it tells us about those jumping on the bandwagon. First, some context: during the years of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour, the British Jewish community felt under threat in a way that it hadn’t for generations. On every metric, antisemitism was rising faster than ever recorded — in official police statistics, in Community Security Trust recorded incidents and anecdotally.
Above all else, we pleaded for non-Jewish allies to speak out. The brutal reality was that relatively few figures in public life considered it worth the hassle. One who did, repeatedly, was JK Rowling. She spoke out on Twitter, and most notably when she wrote a parody of Labour under Corbyn referring to his issues with the British Jewish community. For most British Jews she is a heroine.
Strikingly, if you look at the identities of those who are now using her supposed antisemitism to attack Ms Rowling, you will struggle to find a single one who said or did anything in support of British Jews when we most needed it. Worse, many are the very people who cultishly supported Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Far from being allies against anti-Jewish racism, many of them are the issue.
This latest assault on JK Rowling has nothing to do with any concerns about antisemitism. The only enemies of the Jewish people in this story are those who concoct fake allegations of Jew hate in order to smear a warrior against racism.