Musk set to meet Netanyahu and hostage families in Israel as Twitter antisemitism row deepens

Twitter and Tesla billionaire previously accused Jews of spreading ‘hatred’ against whites

John Bowden
Washington DC
Sunday 26 November 2023 23:29 GMT
Elon Musk jokes about 'banning chickpeas' amid Israel-Hamas conflict

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Tech billionaire Elon Musk is expected to meet with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, president Isaac Herzog and families of hostages taken by the terror group Hamas on Monday as he continues his damage control efforts and tries to convince Twitter’s fleeing advertisers that his platform does not harbour antisemitism.

Mr Herzog announced the plans for the meeting on Sunday, Reuters reported; although Israeli media had previously suggested the two men would meet. He is also expected to meet Mr Netanyahu. Mr Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter, has largely ceased offering responses to the news media, and had not immediately confirmed it publicly.

The 52-year-old Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX mogul has faced a new round of public outrage in the past few weeks as his comments about Jews have sparked more accusations of antisemitic beliefs. On 15 November, he tweeted “you have said the actual truth” in response to a follower who had tweeted to him, “Jewish communties have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them”. The same tweet to which Mr Musk was responding also denied any concern for rising antisemitic hatred around the world.

It was a stunning embrace of antisemitic rhetoric from one of the richest businessmen in the world, and came at a time when his social media platform has been faulted for allowing hate speech to flourish on the platform; groups including Media Matters have published reporting over the course of the Israel-Gaza conflict which erupted in October showing how blatantly antisemitic and pro-Nazi posts had been showing up on the platform next to advertisements for major brands. Mr Musk insists the claims are unfair and has filed a lawsuit against Media Matters.

A number of brands have begun pulling ads en masse from Twitter in the latest round of a recurring advertiser boycott that seems to ebb and flow with Mr Musk’s own questionable behaviour. Mr Musk has responded by accusing Media Matters (without providing evidence for his claims) of manipulating images to show brands like Apple and IBM’s content appearing next to neo-Nazi postings on the platform.

Elon Musk and Benjamin Netanyahu speaking during a discussion broadcast on X in September
Elon Musk and Benjamin Netanyahu speaking during a discussion broadcast on X in September (X)

That controversy may well be brought up on Monday as Mr Musk meets with Israel’s president, whose office told reporters on Sunday: "In their meeting, the president will emphasize the need to act to combat rising antisemitism online.”

Mr Musk was separately sued himself last week and accused by a 22-year-old from Texas of amplifying a conspiracy spread by neo-Nazis falsely accusing the man, Ben Brody, of being involved in an effort to sabotage a protest held by right-wing groups.

He has addressed accusations of holding antisemitic beliefs in a recent Twitter posting, writing: “This past week, there were hundreds of bogus media stories claiming that I am antisemitic. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

“I wish only the best for humanity and a prosperous and exciting future for all.”

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