Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

J.K. Rowling employs Dumbledore to explain feelings on a cultural boycott of Israel

(Credit: Getty Images)
(Credit: Getty Images)

[This article contains spoilers for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows.]

According to Entertainment Weekly, J. K. Rowling has responded to criticisms over her decision against joining a cultural boycott of Israel in a manner her fans know quite well: a preponderance of exposition involving Albus Dumbledore. In February, more than 100 U.K. artists launched the cultural boycott, explaining in a letter published in The Guardian that, “Palestinians have enjoyed no respite from Israel’s unrelenting attack on their land, their livelihood, their right to political existence” and that, because of this, the artists refuse to share their various works and teachings with Israel.

Recently, Rowling and 150 other prominent British figures published a separate letter opposing the cultural boycott and promoting cross-cultural dialogue. In defense of that letter, Rowling wrote a TwitLonger piece elaborating on her position. She explained, “Speaking purely for myself, I have deplored most of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s actions in office. However, I do not believe that a cultural boycott will force Mr. Netanyahu from power, nor have I ever heard of a cultural boycott ending a bloody and prolonged conflict.” Rowling added, “The sharing of art and literature across borders constitutes an immense power for good in this world.”

Yet, many Harry Potter fans were still confused by her rationale, so of course they took to the Internet to compare Israelis with Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Sighing, Rowling grudgingly agreed to play their game, wishing that just once someone would use The Casual Vacancy for some kind of misguided political allegory. So, the author wrote another TwitLonger piece, this one using a scene from Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows to demonstrate her position.


She described a flashback scene in the book where Dumbledore meets Severus Snape on a windy hilltop, even though Snape was still a villain at that time. Rowling wrote, “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 willfully 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.”

She then addressed Harry Potter fans directly: “I genuinely don’t take it in ill part when you send me counterarguments framed in terms of the Potter books. All books dealing with morality can be picked apart for those lines and themes that best suit the arguer’s perspective. 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. He did not consider all weapons equal and he was prepared, always, to go to the hilltop.”

For those who love it when Rowling is roped into writing about Harry Potter again, remember that her play Harry Potter And The Cursed Child is coming to the London stage next summer and will likely run for a while. Also, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will probably continue for a bit longer as well, so perhaps Rowling hasn’t given her final words on that matter either.

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