Emma Barnett: Wiley’s anti-Semitic words burn deep

Emma Barnett attending The Audio and Radio Industry Awards held at The London Palladium, London.
Emma Barnett attending The Audio and Radio Industry Awards held at The London Palladium, London.

Emma Barnett has said the anti-Semitic tweets posted by Grime star Wiley “burn deep”.

The musician, real name Richard Cowie, has been widely condemned for a series of messages, in which he said: “I would challenge the whole world of Jewish community on my own I am not scared I can handle them.”

He also posted an Instagram video in which he said: “Crawl out from under your little rocks and defend your Jewish privilege.”

Police are investigating and he has been banned from both platforms for seven days, however Twitter has been accused of “ignoring anti-Semitism”, as his tweets were still visible 12 hours after they were first posted.

Speaking on her BBC Radio 5 Live show, Barnett read out a string of his tweets and said: “Those words burn, I’m sure I don’t need to tell most of you that, but just in case I do, they burn deep and they are deeply dispiriting and they play on a very well hidden fear a lot of Jewish people have, that some day anti-Semitism will rise up once more, because anti-Semitism is fresh and so raw for us.”

She added: “Only two weeks ago I opened Twitter on my phone and what did i see? I saw ‘Jewish privilege’ trending. Do you know how that feels, how frightening that is? How angering that is?”

Twitter was accused of “allowing racism to run rampant” after promoting the viral hashtag which contained numerous anti-Semitic tweets.

Several posts featuring anti-Jewish racism and Holocaust denial were presented to users looking at the hashtag #JewishPrivilege, which trended in the UK on July 12 and 13.

Grime artist Wiley
Wiley (Ian West/PA)

Addressing Wiley, Barnett continued: “Just in case you need something clarifying, Jews don’t run the law, Jews don’t run the banks, Jews don’t run, as you put it, the world.

“I hate to disappoint you, and anyone else who got your anti-Semitic memo, but it ain’t true.”

Comedian David Baddiel told Times Radio that anti-Semitism operates in a “kind of dual attack” and said: “Anti-Semites can sometimes feel like and look like that they are punching up, that they are wearing the clothes of revolution and speaking out against the man.

“And all the sorts of things that are on Twitter can feel like you’re fighting the good fight. And this goes back a long way. And it’s always been called the socialism of fools and whatnot.”

He added: “And at the end of the day, what is very, very important here is that all minorities suffer racism, suffer discrimination.

“And what happens when minorities turn on each other and start saying, well, you’re actually the oppressors or we’re more oppressed than you.

“And there’s a league table, and a hierarchy of victimisation, is the only people who benefit from that are the racists and the discriminators because division just means that we can’t speak out against the people who are really creating the problems.”

Twitter users are staging a 48-hour walkout over the platform’s handling of anti-Semitic messages, under the hashtag #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate.

Jason Isaacs, Rachel Riley and Armando Iannucci are among the high profile figures who said they will not use Twitter for two days in protest.


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