Two weeks ago, Wiley took to his Twitter and Instagram, as he does, and pissed some people off, as he does. It seems he’d had enough of targeting Jeremy Corbyn supporter, Stormzy. And this time he didn’t specifically take aim at the Jewish, mixed-race rapper, Drake.
Instead, he decided to vilify the Jewish community. Tropes of Jewish people being in control, black people being the true Israelites and the relationship between Jewish people and black people were all included in his outburst.
He’s since been banned from Facebook (and Facebook owned Instagram), YouTube and Twitter. He received criticism from celebrities and commoners alike and his conduct sparked a #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate Twitter boycott, with those as high up as Home Secretary, Priti Patel and Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, condemning his actions.
There is a debate to be had about Wiley’s actions, how the whole ordeal was dealt with and the wider issues of anti-Semitism in our society and the relationship between the Jewish and black community.
I was approached by friend Matt, who felt compelled to speak out following the proceedings so I asked him a few questions:
How did you feel when you read some of Wiley’s tweet’s and heard his response to criticism?
“Pretty upset and quite threatened. I think for many people it’s easy to attribute his tirade to lunacy (and who can blame them it’s Wiley), but I felt that the sentiments he shared are not unprecedented nor are they uncommon. They are real, abhorrent narratives that have a strong presence in much of the discourse surrounding Jews and Judaism .
In his Sky News interview Wiley offered a nonsensical apology for nothing in particular before proceeding to double down on his antisemitic statements. So, it’s clear he fully understands the weight and harm of his comments yet continues to share his prejudices. Thus, he is a malicious anti-Semite, who caused me to feel upset.
Furthermore, the huge audience he has amassed throughout his musical career meant his Tweets reached far and wide, and sadly they were often met with praise rather than outrage. This meant I felt threatened. If this really is a popular opinion of Jews, how does this affect the safety of a continually persecuted race? And what can be done to counter this misperception?”
Were some of Wiley’s claims misdirected and where do you think that they come from?
“As he told Zeze Millz in an interview, he ‘suffer[s] with bumbaholes’, so clearly a bumbahole or two has riled him up. Unfortunately, these bumbaholes happen to be Jewish, so he’s put 2 and 2 together and come up with some sort of episodic antisemitic manifesto self-published via Twitter.
However, such misdirected aggression has a root in the exploitation of black musicians by greedy managers and label heads who, sometimes, happen to be Jewish. Is this the result of a ferociously capitalistic industry or a religion? I’d encourage you to do the quick maths and not fuck it up like Wiley”.
Are Jews simply used as scapegoats?
“I think this has certainly been the case historically and seems to have fostered a pathological distrust of Jews. I think that the scapegoating isn’t as pervasive as it has been previously, but within conspiracy theory circles it seems to be strong.
Every fucking conspiracy theory comes back to some Jewish elite master race. Goebbels gave us ‘The Eternal Jew’ and 4chan gave us Jewish-paedophile-imposter-lizard people”.
Are people educated enough about antisemitism as a couple of other rappers have been accused of it (Jay-Z, Ice Cube etc.)?
“Like with any racism I think people suffer from being grossly miseducated when it comes to racism. The Black Lives Matter movement has forced me to confront my latent prejudices, acknowledge my privilege more than ever and educate myself. Given most racial hatred comes from ignorance, education on Judaism and Jews would certainly help someone to realise their privilege and ensure that they don’t contribute in discrimination.
And I don’t think bars like Jay-Z’s on ‘Story of Oj’: “You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America?” help, despite seeming like an homage to Jewish business people. It is instead a perpetuation of a myth that leads to the justification of antisemitism. But again, comments like this are born from a deep divide between certain black and Jewish communities, especially within the music industry which could certainly be rectified with the help of education”.
Do you think that the 48hr twitter boycott was sufficient and widespread enough?
“Firstly, I don’t quite understand how a 48 hour boycott of a social media platform is going to make a difference to the problem of antisemitism. Had the boycott forced Twitter to consider enforcing their hate speech guidelines, which it didn’t, there wouldn’t still be rampant antisemitism in every other corner of the internet. Therefore, the problem is not Twitter, of course, but antisemitism itself. Maybe if there had been as much effort put into educating as there had been organising the boycott we would see some results. Who knows?
Secondly, some of the organisers of the boycott don’t have the best track record when it comes to anti-racism; people like Alan Sugar and Tracy-Ann Oberman. For them to be suddenly put on a pedestal of anti racist heroism despite does more to damage the cause than benefit it. Journalist, Rivkah Brown suggested the campaign spoke too much to the exceptionalism that can exist in areas of Jewish activism, which distances antisemitic racism from other forms of racism. Perhaps we could benefit from a more unified reevaluation of how we view racism in its various forms”.
So, you don’t think that antisemitism is considered a lesser form of racism as spiked editor Tom Slater suggested?
“I think Tom Slater is a salty prick who suffers from crippling white fragility and just latched onto antisemitism so he can argue white people suffer too. I’m not convinced he genuinely cares about Jewish people at all, but he used the article in question as a political tool to attack Labour, and perhaps rightly so. However, the UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis wrote that article from a qualified position; no one asked for Slater’s commentary.
But back to the question. I don’t think antisemitism is a lesser racism, I mean how the fuck do you quantify racism? I think that the forms of racism are different. A white Jew may benefit from white privilege in some situations but fear for their lives going to synagogues, Jewish schools or supermarkets.
Slater does reference what he calls the ‘left-wingers’ myopic obsession with Israel’ which is certainly a comment worthy of discussion. But I am not equipped to speak on that and unlike Slater I know when to take a step back”.