The day there were no Israelis in Hogwarts

The Goldberg name is not well known for wizardry or witchcraft and yet still we found ourselves entering through the gates of Hogwarts, the very school where Harry Potter learned the magical arts.

The tour around the Warner Bros studios just outside London was a great way of bringing to a close a honeymoon that saw us fly from Tel Aviv to the Caribbean island of St Lucia and then on to London for a week before coming back home.

At the start of the tour of the Harry Potter set a couple of hundred of us were brought into a rather large room with a member of staff getting everyone psyched up for the tour.

“Is there anyone from the UK?” She asked, provoking a giant “YES” from a large part of the audience.

She went on, “where else are people in the audience from? Just shout out what country you’re from so we can see just how far and wide Harry Potter has managed to spread across the globe!”

I felt a rather insistent tug on my hand and already knew I was being denied permission to involve myself in even the chance of being boycotted. I tried not to look into the face of my bride but a mere moment later I found myself staring into her hazel coloured eyes and compliance was the only option.




I telepathically pleaded with my olive skinned bride using my newly acquired powers of husbandness. I used pleading eyes and squeezed her hand right back. But her eyes were no less pleading than they were before and I, of course, relented.


A sound emanated from my mouth and my nose all at once. Was it a sneeze? An indignant snort? A cough? Had someone really proudly just shouted out Pakistan?

And I couldn’t say Israel?

I looked at her again. A father who had fled Tunisia and a mother whose family bolted Iraq equalled a wife who wasn’t interested in dragging the Israeli Palestinian conflict along with her on honeymoon.


Those eyes were insistent and the grip remained tight. I was to be on my best behaviour and not allow Israel to pass through the gates of Hogwarts. At least not knowingly.

Throughout our trip to St Lucia I had told everyone who asked that we were from Israel and had received nothing but polite interest from those around me. One Canadian couple had even gone out of their way to hint to me that they too were of the faith. From the barman who went by the name of Mr Cool to Ken the concierge, everyone knew we were the guests from Israel.

No one made any remarks, no one looked at me funny, no one asked how many Palestinian babies I had killed.

But here’s the thing. I had made the conscious decision not to be evasive about being Israeli. I had decided to come out of the closet and take the chance. A small, tiny little battle against a part of me that was afraid of what someone’s reaction might be had taken place and the result was me telling anyone who asked that we were Israeli.

My wife fought the same battle and decided that at Hogwarts at least, Israel wasn’t going to get a mention.

I wonder if those from the UK or Germany or Pakistan faced the same inner conflict. I doubt it.

The more you read the news the more it appears that we are living in a hostile world, that the next little bit of anti-Semitism is right there around the corner just waiting to raise its head.

Whether I hide it or whether I’m open about it telling other’s what country I’m from is a conscious choice that has to be made. It’s something that’s thought about before hand and the fear of a potential backlash is weighed against the desire to be a proud citizen of the Jewish state. The fear can either be bowed to or ignored.

But it’s always there.

Perhaps one day we’ll be able to wander around the world and tell people we’re Israeli without having to worry that doing so is making a political statement.

But on that day at least, Hogwarts was Israeli-free.