An Open Letter to JK Rowling, From a Harry Potter Fan

To JK Rowling, Thanks For Listening

I grew up a Harry Potter kid. When I was a lonely and miserable student who didn’t fit into the Orwellian Hell of my religious fundamentalist high school, the Harry Potter world and the fan community that sprung up on the internet gave me hope. In fact, one of my best friends till today was found through Harry Potter.

I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot, but I believe it must be said. I was a bookish Hermione who didn’t fit in the toxic school environment around me and finding the various Harry Potter fans told me that somewhere out there, there were people who understood me. So, if this letter finds you, please know you gave me hope in some of the darkest days of my life. Thank you very much. It’s my dream to be a storyteller like you.

I’m Israeli-American (Israeli mother, and American father) and I deeply love the country where most of my beloved family lives. I accept like all countries, it has its major flaws and I desperately hope for peace. I’m tired of violence and hatred. I’m tired of both sides throwing the title of “Death Eater” or “Nazi” at the other side. When I was cowering under my bed from a rocket siren, I wrote “Give me a future where I’m not afraid of the sky.”

I need that future to come as soon as possible. I’m a passionate advocate for Israel, but I also have to accept that there is another side to the conflict. My goal is for the moderates of both sides to find a way to live together. Whether one advances a goal of two states or one state (and I’m firmly two states), demonizing the other side is only delaying peace. After all, two states or one, (and again, still passionately two state) Palestinians and Israelis will have to become good neighbors someday and that starts with dialogue for that future.

I think some of the points of your defense could be read in a very hurtful light. I really hope you aren’t comparing most ordinary Israelis to Snape, who is quite “despicable” and I wish you also had mentioned the pain Israelis suffer terribly under terrorism and incitement by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

Still, I won’t read negativity into your words because I think it’s counterproductive. I’m choosing to hear the crux of your argument that boycotting is wrong and we need to have dialogue.

Every side will try to claim your words as a provocation or defense. You will be accused of supporting evil no matter what you say. Sadly, you waded into a shark tank of controversy and everyone will want a bite. So I’m claiming your words the way I believe you want them read, that both sides see themselves as Dumbledore and the other as Snape. That being said, the dialogue must still happen.

As Dumbledore said, “differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” It’s hard to keep my heart open, I’m admittedly partisan. But I’m ready to try.

I hope someday you will visit Israel, I know my young cousins (and me, definitely me!) would love to tell you how much we loved your book! Hopefully, peace will come and the only news coming from the region will be welcoming you!

Someday, I hope you will read and love my future books and know how you inspired me to see words as the greatest magic.

Till then, I wish you joy and fulfillment,

Elke Weiss, a member of Dumbledore’s Army of Open Hearts

About the Author
Elke Weiss is currently an Israel Government Fellow, working in Biodiversity. In her spare time, she's the Content Director for Act For Israel, an Iengage Fellow for the Shalom Hartman Center, a Media Fellow for Chinese Media Center, a novelist and a rabble rouser.