J.K. Rowling published an essay Tuesday morning comparing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Wizarding War in her “Harry Potter” series after controversy erupted from her involvement in resisting an economic and political boycott of Israel — and now fans are divided.
Last Thursday, “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling signed a “Culture for Coexistence” letter with 150 other major British figures that said in part, “cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory and will not further peace.”
The letter came after hundreds of UK academics announced a boycott of Israeli universities and after a growing pro-Palestine movement in support of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which compares the country’s actions against Palestinians to apartheid in South Africa.
Her inclusion in the letter angered many of her Palestinian and pro-Palestinian fans who began calling out the author on Twitter for her stance. Some even used the author’s well-known characters in support of the BDS.
jk rowling supporting israel and ‘co-existence’ is like her telling the wizarding world not to fight back against voldemort n talk it out :/
— هاديه (@planxtjpg) October 24, 2015
Letter from JK Rowling and others asks ‘Can’t we just put Israel and Palestine into a big old sorting hat?’
— Lizzie Homersham (@homershame) October 23, 2015
“Many of the messages I’ve received in the last few days have included variations on the theme ‘talking wouldn’t stop the Wizarding War’ and as far as that goes, it’s true,” Rowling says in the beginning of her “Why Dumbledore went to the hilltop” essay. “Talking alone would not have stopped the Wizarding War and talking alone didn’t.”
But she goes on to use two of her most memorable characters — Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape — to explain why she believes boycotting Israel would be detrimental since it would keep people whose minds aren’t “wilfully closed” from working with one another [emphasis ours]:
Dumbledore was not acting against his own nature when he chose to meet Snape on the hilltop. Dumbledore, remember, is not a politician; the Ministry is weak and corrupt, it enabled Voldemort’s rise and is now doing a poor job of fighting him. Dumbledore is an academic and he believes that certain channels of communication should always remain open. It was true in the Potter books and it is true in life that talking will not change wilfully closed minds. However, the course of my fictional war was forever changed when Snape chose to abandon the course on which he was set, and Dumbledore helped him do it. Theirs was a partnership without which Harry’s willingness to fight would have been pointless.
Rowling writes that while the “Palestinian community has suffered untold injustice and brutality” and that holding the Israeli government accountable would “satisf[y] the human urge to do something,” she believes that a “cultural boycott places immovable barriers between [people] who want to talk to each other, understand each other, and work side-by-side for peace.”
“I can only say that a full discussion of morality within the series is impossible without examining Dumbledore’s actions, because he is the moral heart of the books,” she finished. “He did not consider all weapons equal and he was prepared, always, to go to the hilltop.”
The thousands of responses to her message have been mixed. Some praised the author for the way she related to her audience while others remain unconvinced that Rowling should be voicing her opinions on the issue at all.
JK Rowling’s fantasy world: where Scotland is loved for remaining in the union & Israel will have a wee chat wi Palestine & sort it all out
— Kimberley Cadden (@Indy_Kimberley) October 27, 2015
Still others argued that while the essay was well-written, it is far too simplistic to sum up the entire issue.
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