Torah for Today! This week: Wiley
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Torah for Today! This week: Wiley

 Rabbi Zvi Solomons looks at the recent outburst by grime artist Wiley and delves into Jewish texts for an Orthodox response

Rabbi Zvi Solomons
Wiley aka Richard Cowie Jnr. (Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire)
Wiley aka Richard Cowie Jnr. (Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire)

Have you watched former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks’ eloquent YouTube video on antisemitism? It analyses the phenomenon of antisemitism from religious hatred to racial theories and today’s maligning of Israel and Zionism. 

Conspiracy theories about Jews and Judaism, Israel and Zionism, are enhanced by the internet, particularly by social media. 

The episode with grime artist Wiley is among the most recent of many such events. After he was banned from multiple platforms, David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the KKK, was finally removed from Twitter. 

What does the Torah say about such people? Balaam was a man who sought to curse the Jewish nation. Tradition tells us he eventually found a way to seduce us to worship the god of Pe’or.

Much of the antisemitism seen today seeks to use modern ideas to woo us away from our attachment to Israel as a Jewish state. There are many Jews who are seduced by the universalist myth, who abandon their traditions and instead seek solidarity with anti-Zionist antisemites.

But there is another type of antisemitism, found in Louis Farrakhan’s books and preaching which espoused that Jews are imposters and Black Africans are the real Hebrews. The very words we use in Hebrew become, in this falsehood, stolen goods, and we Jews thieves and imposters. Of course, it is ridiculous. Wiley and his ilk may well have a relationship with God, but it is not Jewish. They use the Christian Bible to justify dispossessing and appropriating our culture.

Another commonplace trope is saying that our Judaism is demonic. They will often cherry-pick quotations from the Talmud, which are obviously intended to make Jews look revolting. Rabbi Gil Student’s excellent website, at talmud.faithweb.com, is the perfect counter to such antisemitism.

Above all, we must call out racists and report them – and refer them to those who fight antisemitism. You need not be polite: the Talmud says you can tell an idolater where to stick his head – and these people are no better than idolatrous, being determined to deny us our heritage, traditions and our way of life. May you get thousands such antisemites banned.

  •  Rabbi Zvi Solomons serves the Jewish Community of Berkshire, www.JCoB.org
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