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Are the goblins in ‘Hogwarts Legacy’ antisemitic? The Harry Potter video game renews criticism.



(JTA) — When people enter the world of “Hogwarts Legacy,” the blockbuster video game that was officially released on Friday, they will find themselves immersed in the fictional universe of “Harry Potter” — and face-to-face with an alleged antisemitic caricature. 

The narrative of the game centers on a goblin rebellion in the 1890s, about a century before the fantasy books take place. Some who have had an early look at the game have echoed longstanding concerns that the creatures’ prominent hook noses, and their role in the “Harry Potter” universe running the wizard bank, Gringotts, teeter on the edge of an antisemitic stereotype that Jews control the world’s banks.  

Others have taken issue with “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling’s views on transgender people, which LGBTQ rights groups have called transphobic. 

The criticism does not appear to have significantly impeded sales of “Hogwarts Legacy,” which has become the best-selling game on Steam, the world’s most popular vendor for computer games. On Twitch, the popular video-game streaming platform, the game reached 1.2 million concurrent viewers at its peak, the most views ever achieved for a single-player game.  

While there have been Harry Potter games in the past, this is the first major studio video game from Avalanche Software, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Games. It provides an immersive experience, creating hype among fans who are hungry for a wizard simulator that makes the player feel like they live in that world. And it’s also received positive reviews, sitting at 84% on Metacritic, a review aggregate site.

It lands several years after the depiction of goblins in the extended series of Harry Potter books and movies elicited criticism. Comedian Pete Davidson criticized J.K. Rowling, the books’ author, on “Saturday Night Live” in 2020 for creating a world in which “little giant-nosed Jew goblins” control the banks. In a podcast episode in 2021, comedian Jon Stewart said, “You can ride dragons, and you’ve got a pet owl, and who should run the banks? Jews.”

Those accusations have resurfaced in the days leading up to the video game’s release. Jack Doyle, a writer for The Mary Sue, a publication that describes itself as “the geek girl’s guide to the universe,” wrote that the video game “revives the antisemitic trope.” Doyle added that “the game seems to be of the opinion that the ‘moral’ choice is to crush the [goblin] rebellions, thereby returning goblins to subjugation.”

The website for “Hogwarts Legacy” says that “J.K. Rowling was not involved in the creation of the game,” though developers “collaborated closely with her team on all aspects of the game.” Rowling herself does not appear to have directly addressed the antisemitism allegations. 

Rowling does have defenders in the Jewish community — even as some of them acknowledge antisemitic undertones to the goblins. She has repeatedly condemned antisemitism publicly, particularly among supporters of former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Following Stewart’s comments, the U.K.’s Campaign Against Antisemitism said in a statement that “the portrayal of the goblins in the Harry Potter series is of a piece with their portrayal in Western literature as a whole” and “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.”

Travis Northup, who wrote a glowing review of the game for IGN, a popular video game journalism website, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he did not think the game’s premise echoed an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

“The story does not depict a cabal of bank-controlling goblins trying to take over the world,” Northup wrote in a Twitter direct message. “It’s about one particular goblin rebelling against the Wizarding World’s insistence on keeping magic out of the hands of their kind.”

Northup added, though, “I certainly won’t deny that the Wizarding World’s depiction of goblins in general has always been a bit questionable — even before this game.” Northrup added that whether concerns over that “questionable” portrayal should have influenced game developers is “a tough question.”

“I imagine that Avalanche had to work within established Potter lore, which includes the goblin rebellions,” he said. “I don’t know enough about the situation there or the creative freedoms they were allowed to take.”

Northup noted that the games’ writers “go out of their way to make you interact with good goblins who don’t share the evil goblin’s ideals.” He also said he thought the developers included a trans woman in the game to “almost certainly distance themselves from Rowling’s views” on transgender people.

“It’s a world a lot of people love and I think the developers did their best to make it better than it was before Hogwarts Legacy, which is admirable,” Northup wrote. 

Yonah Gerber, a video game archivist, had a different take, noting other details of the game that they said verge on antisemitism. The game includes a description of a horn that resembles a shofar, which “goblins [used] during the 1612 Goblin Rebellion to rally troops and generally annoy witches and wizards,” Gerber said.

“If this was the first time a Rowling property has been antisemitic, that’s a woopsie. But it’s not,” Gerber tweeted. “Even if these are coincidences, had the development team made a point to avoid antisemitic caricatures and educated themselves on that history, this wouldn’t have happened. They chose not to care. And that’s not much better, really.” 

Gerber, who is Jewish and nonbinary, told the New York Jewish that “it sucks” that so many people are playing the game.

“I can’t do anything about the fact that people care more about entertainment than actual people harmed by said entertainment,” Gerber said. 

The post Are the goblins in ‘Hogwarts Legacy’ antisemitic? The Harry Potter video game renews criticism. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

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Local News

Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

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Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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