From his twisted logic to claims all Jews are rich, here's exactly what was wrong with what Wiley said



Grime artist Wiley last month went on a 48-hour antisemitic social media tirade. The characteristic failure of Twitter and Instagram to immediately stop him in his tracks underlines once again that – despite its reputation as the world’s “oldest hatred” – anti-Jewish racism is too often misunderstood, tolerated and excused.

Once the social media giants finally acted, Wiley simply claimed that he was not a racist – thus gaslighting every single Jewish person in Britain who knows that just isn’t true.

Antisemitism has been around for many centuries: Greek philosophers mused on it and Romans banned Jews from their own capital.

But sadly it’s not confined to the history books. Over the past two years, Jews have twice been murdered as they prayed in their synagogues in the United States. They’ve been shot at in Germany. And France’s Chief Rabbi tells Jewish boys to wear a baseball cap to cover their skull cap.
Here in the UK, Jewish schools are considered so at risk of attack that they have guards at every entrance to protect their pupils; every British synagogue has the same.

Even now, Wiley won’t acknowledge the hurt he has caused. There’s nothing edgy or radical about what he said. He may not have realised it, but the lies and tropes about Jews that he trotted out are the same ones spouted for centuries from everyone from Tudor playwrights and Nazi propagandists.
That’s why Wiley’s words were so painful to me as a Jewish woman, to my family and my friends.

I do not doubt that Wiley has experienced racism throughout his life and career. Few black Britons haven’t. But all racism is racism, antisemitism is racism. There should be no “oppression Olympics” that ranks prejudice towards Jews as inferior to other forms of racism.

So what exactly was wrong with what Wiley said?

Twisted logic
When the furore broke, he told Sky News: “I just want to apologise for generalising and going outside of the people who I was talking to within the workspace and workplace I work in.”

Wiley’s logic is simple: I shouldn’t have gone out after Jews generally, but my grievance is legitimate so it’s OK to hound the individual concerned with racist epithets.

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There is, of course, nothing wrong with calling out bad behaviour in the workplace. But, quite rightly, no decent HR department would believe it is acceptable to accompany a complaint about your boss or colleagues with a slew of comments based on their race, sexual orientation, disability, or gender. And it shouldn’t be acceptable – even if you’re the “Godfather of Grime” – to fire off offensive remarks about Jews when you’re having a row with your boss.

All for one, and one for all
Wiley accepts that he took one experience with a Jewish person, or group, and “generalised” it to all Jews.

That’s pretty damn offensive in and of itself. But Wiley did not absent-mindedly ascribe the misdeeds of one to the many. Instead, he wrote: “I would challenge the whole world of Jewish community on my own I am not scared I can handle them.”

The Voice – self styled as Britain’s Favourite Black Newspaper – ran a very sympathetic and now deleted account of the affair. The journalist who wrote the piece asked: “But within the ranting were there any salient points?” He concluded that “some of the views espoused by Wiley are the great unsaid outside of the black community.”

So called “Jewish power”
That apparent “great unsaid” lies at the heart of Wiley’s rants. It’s based on the notion that Jews somehow pull all the strings. As Wiley wrote: “Who writes the laws? Who runs the world? Who runs the banks? Who writes the law books? Who hides behind the police? Who owns the police?”
The accusations that malevolent Jews control the media, politics, the financial system – just about everything really – is the centuries-old lie that will not die.

It gained a new lease of life at the start of the 20th century when the supporters of Russia’s Tsar decided to create a scapegoat for their country’s many ills. The resulting document – “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” – purported to be the minutes of a group of Jews discussing their goal of Jewish global domination by starting wars and controlling the economy.

Despite being one of the most notorious examples of fake news, the “The Protocols” was widely disseminated and continues to be.

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Its consequences have been deadly: Hitler quotes from its liberally in his own racist polemic “Mein Kampf”. The Holocaust was proof of what a sham the notion of Jewish power was and is – six million Jews were killed as the world turned its back.

Of course, some Jews hold prominent positions in British life. But the notion they exert control, or are part of some great conspiracy, is just farcical. Who writes the laws? MPs. There are around 10 Jewish MPs out of a total of 650. Who runs the world? Let’s go with ‘girls, girls’. Who runs the banks? Rarely Jews – even the Bank of Israel is run by a Muslim. Who owns the police? Not Jews – in 2015 there were only 200 Jewish police officers in the UK.

Jew are all “rich”, apparently
According to Wiley, all Jews are rich. “They just use us [black people] to make money to feed their kids … for generations as well,” he wrote.

This is a regrettably commonplace view in the UK, the US and worldwide. Social media is full of wild tales of the wealthy “Rothschilds” using their wealth to “run the world”.

The truth is a little more mundane. The bank is now a relatively minor institution with little political clout.

Historically, antisemitic rulers banned Jews from owning land or going to university – money lending was a business they were allowed to do. But most Jews have never worked in this field. Jews are not inherently born ‘good at business or money.’ Instead, long-abolished, centuries-old antisemetic laws have morphed into an antisemitic trope – a reccuring theme of Jew hatred.

There are rich Jews and poor Jews, as there are for every race or religion. Here in the UK, there Jews on the breadline, there are working-class Jews and Jews who are homeless. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish families, who have a large number of children and frequently only one salary, often live in overcrowded homes and nine per cent of Jews in the UK were recorded as living in council accommodation in the last census.

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Jews are “white” and cannot be the victims of racism
The Jewish experience is often marginalised – “white” people cannot be victims of racism. Arguably some of the sympathy for Wiley stemmed from a sense he was simply “punching-up”. This is pernicious. In reality, 75 years after we discovered the horrors of Auschwitz, Belsen and Buchenwald, the UK is experiencing the highest incidents of race hate towards Jews since record began.

This new antisemitism likes to label Jews as “white supremacists” and link them to the Klu Klux Klan, so did Wiley. While African Americans have always been the KKK’s main obsession, Jews, immigrants and the, LGBT+ people, have long been the victims of its violence and hatred.

The so-called white nationalist movement similarly targets Jews. Alongside their racist chants attacking people of colour, the neo-Nazis who marched through Charlottesville in August 2017 shouted: “The Jews will not replace us.”

This view also denies the diversity of the Jewish community. There have always been black Jews – from The Queen of Sheba to the Ethiopian Jews airlifted to Israel during the famine and civil war in the 1980s and 1990 – and Jews of every colour. The Board of Deputies of British Jews has just appointed the journalist Stephen Bush, a black Jew, to head its first black Jewish commission. Actress Sophie Okonedo and singer Craig David are both black, British Jews.

Sorry not sorry
Wiley clearly feels he has little to feel sorry for. After his initial Twitter suspension, he tweeted “I’m back” and proceeded to double down on his tirade. Having been dropped by his management company and excluded again from Twitter and now Instagram, all he could muster was a non-apology for comments that “looked” antisemitic.

Thankfully, despite the real issues of racism which exist in the music industry, Wiley appears to be in a minority. Last weekend, 700 stars – including Rita Ora, James Blunt, Jess Glynne, Niall Horan, Nao, Clean Bandit, Little Mix, Lewis Capaldi, Labrinth, Naughty Boy, Chic star Nile Rodgers and The 1975 – denounced his antisemitic tirades and called instead for “love, unity and friendship”.



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