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Wiley Has Made Jews Less Safe

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Wiley_(rappeur)

Allegedly someone was allegedly eating an alleged banana seductively. Now if that sentence seemed OK, that’s probably how we got to the point that The Guardian and Sky News both saw fit to describe Wiley’s antisemitic tirade as ‘alleged’.

I’m not saying that certain media outlets don’t take antisemitism seriously… actually that’s exactly what I’m saying and I understand the fear. We’re still in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement and so any attempt to denigrate a person of colour, for any reason, is seen as not showing solidarity.

Thankfully I have a functioning brain that can both defend the lives of black people against systemic racism and police brutality whilst simultaneously calling out Wiley for the antisemite he is. Even if we look at the context and presume that rumours of him being mistreated by his Jewish owned management company are true (I have seen no evidence either way), there’s still no problem. Wiley’s an antisemite and his management company mistreated him and Black Lives Matter!

And then we get to the freedom of speech argument. No one is stopping Wiley from talking (excluding inciting racial hatred), we’d just rather he wouldn’t do it on one of the largest social networks in the world. These words have consequences. Wiley is a role model and in one day, he’s made Jews less safe and become a foot soldier in a race war.  

However, this does not mean the Jewish community should cease support of the right for black equality. We are smarter than that. Wiley is but one person. Racism is racism is racism. 

I extend this more generally to the Black Lives Matter movement. I was on the verge of throwing a few quid at BLM UK, but their own issues with antisemitism a couple of weeks ago, stopped me doing that. How the lead activists think criticising Jews or criticising Israel (I am at pains to point out these are very separate things) will help their cause is beyond me.

I don’t continue to support Black Lives Matter because of people like Wiley, I support it in spite of people like Wiley.

I suppose what I’m saying is that all of this is what happens when we all become no more than our identity. I’m not just a Jew. I’m a geek. I’m a guitarist. I’m a podcaster. I’m 1000 different things of which being Jewish is one.

It’s time we separate out prejudice of a group of people from individuals who are always flawed and sometimes bad people. Hmm, might be time to have a cuppa from my ‘What Would Melanie Philips do?’ mug.

[Cover image: By Lookwhoitis – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17469659.]

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Hayden Cohen is a writer, performer and podcaster. Season 2 of The Bagel Podcast (which he hosts and produces) will be released in the autumn.
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