If you thought the Harry Potter series was an innocent children's fantasy story, you're wrong, an Iranian movie producer says: In reality, the Harry Potter books and movies are part of a “Zionist plot” to “spread their poison.” With its emphasis on witches, warlocks, and wonders, he says, the Harry Potter series "serves to spread the dark and evil essence of Zionism and its goals."
Iran TV: Harry Potter Is A Zionist Hollywood Plot
In a series of accusations that sound ridiculous to those raised in the West, Iran's Irinn TV channel produced a documentary that purports to show how the various elements of the Potter story – the use of magic, the struggle against the Dark Lord, and other themes – essentially reflect the tenets and goals of Zionism (read: Judaism), and encourage innocent people around the world to support those goals.
"Propaganda for purity of blood and race, one of the principles of global Zionism, is openly portrayed and emphasized in the second Harry Potter film," the film's narrator says, referring to the obsession of the film's villain, Voldemort, with pure bloodlines – symbolic of the Jews' parochial attitude to non-Jewish nations. "If we add this [film] to the other pieces of the puzzle – the beliefs depicted in the other propaganda and political products of the Ziono-Hollywoodists, the Satanic features of this inhumane movement will become more evident."
In addition to the blood theme, the series alludes to the Jewish desire to rule the world, says a prominent Iranian film critic quoted in the movie. "[The Zionists] support Harry Potter because he is the promised Messiah," Sa'id Mostaghasi says. "As you can see, he has the same traits and wants to defeat a dark force, which in this film is depicted as Voldemort. In the sixth episode, there is even mention of the War of Armageddon."
Perhaps worst of all, the documentary says, is the series' attempts to influence innocent Christians and Muslims to worship the devil, as the Jews do. “The creation of new stories, based on mythical themes leading to witchcraft and devil worship, has always been a tool used by contemporary Zionists, and is once again being used by them... targeting innocent children and youth” to join them in their Satanic ways."
The Iranians are apparently the first to make the three-way connection between Harry Potter, the Devil, and Jews, although they did not invent the two strands that make up that connection; Christian Europe has for nearly a millenium portrayed the Jews as the representative of the Devil on earth, while modern-day Christian evangelicals preachers have railed against Harry Potter because of its magic and fantasy related themes – although there have been a number of commentators across the spectrum of Christianity, including evangelicals and Catholics, who have rallied to the series' defense. Thus, while the Focus on the Family group has said that the Potter books contain some positive messages, “they are packaged in a medium – witchcraft – that is directly denounced in Scripture,” evangelical author Connie Neal has written.
That the Iranians would connect the devil theme to the Jews is not surprising at all, given that Christians have been doing this for much of their own history. In his seminal work on the subject, “The Devil and the Jews,” author Joshua Trachteberg laid out a sordid history of European anti-Semitism, which showed that much of Christian anti-Semitism over the past 1,000 years stems from a fear – and suspicion – that the Jews were working with the Devil to destroy Christianity.
“How is it that the Jews can be hated for being Communists and capitalists – at the same time,” asks Trachtenberg, as he explores some of the most ridiculous beliefs that Christians have had about Jews: that they poison wells, desecrate the “host” (the wafer representing Jesus in Catholic ritual), and destroy morality, among many other sins. In his work, published in 1943, Trachtenberg builds a persuasive case that Christians have seen Jews as allies of the Devil, working against them, and that those vestigial beliefs are still around today – for example, in the accusation that Hollywood (which everyone knows is “controlled by the Jews”) spreads moral perversion and unpatriotic attics.
Thus, it didn't take much for Iran to pick up on these themes in its battle against Israel and the Jews, says history researcher Morris Cohen. “Those themes were out there for the taking, so it makes sense that they would use them against Israel.” The Islamic world, he said, is much more vehement in its condemnation of Harry Potter than the Christian world: In 2002, the books were banned in schools across the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on the grounds that its themes were contrary to Islamic values; in 2007, police in Karachi, Pakistan discovered and defused a car bomb located outside a shopping center where the final Harry Potter novel was scheduled to go on sale that day; and of course, Iran has harped on the Jewish connection to the sorcery themes in the books, saying that "Zionists had spent billions of dollars" on it in order to encourage devil worship, as described above.
The Jewish attitude to Harry Potter, it should be noted, has been a bit more varied. While some rabbis, especially in the hareidi-religious community, have spoken against the series, few have pointed to its emphasis on magic as the reason – and are more likely to lump it together with other popular culture phenomena that can draw the attention of children away from Torah study.
However, there are a fair number of rabbis and Jewish authors who have made deep analyses of the books and movies, and have found what they say are many parallels to Jewish philosophy and thought, with themes such as the power of good over evil, the importance of loyalty and friendship, and the value of doing right vs. the value of preserving light. In an article on Aish.com, for example, author Shira Albertson says that Harry “has to find the inner strength to act with independence and conviction,” reflecting Hillel's famous saying, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”
While one would expect Judaism to be as vociferously opposed to Harry Potter as Christians and Muslims are – after all, magic and sorcery are capital crimes in the Torah - one reason that the Jewish towards Harry Potter is more relaxed may be because of the way Jews practice the Torah. “Jews are used to interpreting the Written Law through the lens of the Oral Law, and thus don't necessarily automatically jump on things that appear 'suspicious' on the surface,” Rabbi Chaim Shapiro of New York told Israel National News. “For example, the death penalty is mentioned numerous times in the Torah for a wide array of sins, but the Talmud tells us that a Court of Jewish Law that killed too frequently – even once in 70 years – was condemned. The Oral Law obviates many of these penalties, so it makes sense that rabbis would look beyond the surface on the Harry Potter issue as well.”