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A THREAD ON “BLACK ANTISEMITISM” (with a bonus trip down memory lane): Around Wiley's racist diatribe against Jews over the last two days there have been lots of whispers about specifically "black" forms of antisemitism. Once again there have been suggestions that antisemitism
- or at least certain types of antisemitism - are more prevalent in black communities or in "black culture" (and often these suggestions tend to relish the very idea of homogenising blackness, while morally condemning it.) In the past such suggestions have been dismissed
sociologically. Every now and then an academic publishes another paper about how antisemitic attitudes, antisemitic violence, antisemitic prejudice or politics are all in fact less prevalent among black people. And it's true. My sense, though, is that this results in the
avoidance of talking about some specific forms of antisemitism that need to be talked about urgently, but precisely not to theorise them as “black antisemitism.”

Lots of people seemed shocked by what Wiley said. I was not. In fact there was not a single thing he said that I
hadn't heard before from some other antisemite. And some of it I had only heard from a very specific set of antisemites. I’m going to tell a little story followed by a few points about Wiley and antisemitism in the present historical context.

20 years ago, it often felt like I
had a whole choice of antisemitism crammed into a pretty unexceptional North London state school. None of it was particularly violent or dangerous at the time - there was a mixture of white nationalist antisemitism, mainly from the most impoverished and lumpenized elements of the
student body; there was antisemitism that was chiefly associated with the kids who spent their evenings at Finsbury Park Mosque when it was particularly cranky and fundamentalist (as it was 20 years back), and this was especially reflected in conversations around Middle Eastern
politics as the wars were kicking off and through the second intifada - these discussion of which consumed most breaks and lunchtimes. And then, of all things, there was essentially a Farrakhanite cell being run by one of the teachers. It's this latter group I want to speak
about.

Those of us who were Jews or Communists (or both) knew that this guy didn't much like us - we knew precisely what he thought, even if it wasn’t said explicitly - although it was more than frequently implied. He and his mates would turn up at the school wearing their
suits and little red bowties. They mostly kept their antisemitism out of school, but we knew that on a Sunday we could go to Speakers’ Corner and hear this teacher saying that “Jews worship at the Synagogue of Satan” among various other things.

Alongside this the teacher ran
groups in the schools that were, if not strictly Nation of Islam business, somewhat related to them. They were support groups for black boys, who were often getting mistreated by the school, mistreated by the state, being refused education about their histories and cultures by
an increasingly restricted national curriculum in the time of new and ferocious empire and the jingoism of the War on Terror. I don’t doubt that this teacher was, in truth, one of the only people around who actually understood or gave a shit about those boys and what they faced.
When I say the school offered little support, it was worse than that. In a context where black boys in particular were getting a lot of hassle from the police, being regularly profiled, stopped and searched, and violently attacked, the school worked
with @MPSKentishTown not to challenge this but to get a police officer stationed permanently in the school. In fact he didn’t target more black boys, but this was only because he spent the entire time flirting with 13 and 14 year old girls (while other officers beat up on kids on
the street.)

It was only ever boys who got involved with this teacher’s schemes, as instead of support, black girls would receive comments about the problems of them wearing “Western clothes” or more explicitly were told to stop wearing short skirts. I was never clear if they
actively recruited to the NOI in this group - in fact most of the boys involved (from a whole range of backgrounds) seemed to have little interest in NOI philosophy and religion, although almost all of them seemed to turn a blind eye both to the antisemitism and to the misogyny,
and would defend the teacher. When I have met them years later many have said they didn’t even notice these things. Most of the boys involved were distant from any kind of radical politics, although one would often hear certain suspicion against the Jews from some of them as a
sort of socialism of fools. Yet these sorts of conspiracies were common to all of the antisemites around. I’m glad that some of them have since this time (like @Akala) turned to a proper radical politics!

I’ll never forget all of this coming to a head in a meeting at the school
when @Bungatuffie utterly eviscerated the NOI positions, calmly but forcefully pointing to the egregiousness of their phrenological thinking, their racial realism, their antisemitism and misogyny. (a tip to NOI organisers: if you’re starting a cell in a school, make sure Paul
Gilroy’s kids don’t go there!) I’ve since learnt that these days this teacher has a job working in a Jewish school. Oy vey.

I only bring all of this up - even in a context where Wiley has said that he is not following Farrakhan - because it offers a sort of characterisation of
what is currently wrongly being thought of as a specifically “black antisemitism.” And in this context there is important history because especially Wiley’s claims of Jewish control of the transatlantic slave trade have their roots in NOI material - in this case especially the
cause celebre around Tony Martin and his debunked claims on Jewish ownership in the early 1990s that had their foundation in his adoption of NOI text, “The Secret Relationship Between the Blacks and the Jews Volume 1.”

Tony Martin’s history is a case in point because he would go
on to hang out with far right holocaust deniers (or “revisionist historians.”) But this is an element of a longer history of black nationalist fascists collaborating with their white nationalist counterparts. It’s a history that goes as far back as Garvey (another antisemite)
who collaborated with the KKK. It’s a history that here in Britain meant that the NOI would work with the National Front and the British National Party, on the basis of a shared interest in political absolutism founded in racial realism.

What can be established from these
histories is not so much a “black antisemitism” but a relatively consistent interaction, collaboration and cross-pollination between racial realist, nationalist, hyper-masculinist groupings, of which some black groups have played a part.

What was striking to me in Wiley’s
diatribe was that within the agglomeration of racist and antisemitic myths and conspiracy theories, he could be found to be contributing to this history. He was willingly retweeting alt-right, white suprematist material such as that from the Kekman account. “Kek” is an alt-right
meme, the account has a profile that encouraged gassing Jews, while saying “Pronouns are 14 and 88” - this is a reference to “The Fourteen Words Slogan”: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” while 88 stands for “Heil Hitler.”
These are slogans that have been prominant in white nationalist fascist groupings for 25 years now. In this case, Wiley was retweeting this account posting some relatively hardline antisemitism and holocaust denialism. Wiley also made tweets, in his rant, on anti-mask matters
and questioned the reality of COVID - talking points which are far more often associated the wearers of MAGA hats.

Right now the territories of these sorts of collaborations between racial realists are changing. Far from the nationalist movements - be they empire or insurgent
anti-colonial movements - in the 20th century, we are witnessing not only a decline of empire but a decline of the nation as such. It is precisely in this context that new allegiances are being formed - and this explains something of the presence of Boogaloo Boys at BLM protests,
not as agitators from the outside, but as an element of the movement that wills the inglorious end of the world in a vicious race war, with an attempt to bring it about from the inside fo national decline. It is precisely these elements that Wiley looked like he had been reading
material from, or forging collaborations with.

Understanding the place of antisemitism here in this ground of collaboration can be difficult: it requires recognising the shifting relationships between antisemitism and nationalism - and recognising Jews as a persistent wound to
many forms of nationalist absolutism (and indeed recognising Zionism as often equally understanding itself to be wounded by diasporic Jewishness, and offering a place where Jewishness can be supplanted by muscular and militaristic nationalism.) And now it needs reconfiguring in
a time in which both nationalism and the antisemitism it carries on its back appear as mere remnants of a modernism that has been overcome by the forces of capital. The question of the viability of antisemitism seems like it may well play a decisive role in determining the
strength of the possibility of racial partisanism on all sides deprived of the promise of national freedom or liberation.

This all remains an incomplete theorisation, and there are questions of predominant and preponderant racism in how these matters are addressed. It is
striking to me, for example, that Wiley’s case (albeit an extreme case, with some very fierce antisemitism, that has clearly been worked on for rather a long time) has got a lot more attention than, for example, @RobbieWilliams getting in with the QAnon crowd in the last couple
of months (for those who don’t know, QAnon is a sort of conspiracy of conspiracies, that is currently being used to unite elements of the US and international far right - and often takes as a large element in interpretation some old fashioned antisemitic thinking about Jewish
control of the media, Hollywood, and the government in order to suppress knowledge about the purported satanic abuse of children.)

And all of this needs to be reexamined in the light of the spread of conspiracy theories in a context of massive tech and social media monopolies
- of the profit that is made of their dissemination, and their increased power in a world in which the largest accumulations of capital are intent on bringing about a situation in which social intercourse is reduced to universal doxasticism.

In any case, it is worth saying
that there are histories of antisemitism that need to be confronted here but ideally not with notions of “black antisemitism” - although the particular histories of antisemitism in racialist nationalist movements does need consideration. This is required especially where
antisemitism is posed as an element in the cause of black liberation. Many of these questions have not been asked for a long time - and much of the old thinking on this needs to be reassessed. Personally I’m not a huge fan of, for example, the James Baldwin stuff, that I think
can often leave open that Jesse Jackson style “hymie-town” antisemitism - although perhaps the bigger question here has to do with the projection of politics from the locally specific settings of Harlem and Brooklyn to a global analysis of racialisation under capitalism (a
neo-liberal dream well beyond the limitations of the cultural politics of racism!) But nonetheless this might be - along with the other pieces in that old Schocken book from 1970 - a good place to start.
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