Elon Musk to meet Israel President, families of hostage; talk on antisemitism planned

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Elon Musk, the tech entrepreneur who has been accused by civil rights groups of promoting anti-Semitism on his social media platform X, will meet on Monday with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Israelis whose relatives are being held captive by Hamas in Gaza.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (via REUTERS)

Herzog’s office announced the meeting Sunday night, saying, “During the meeting, the president will emphasize the importance of combating rising anti-Semitism online.”

Musk, the billionaire who runs Tesla and SpaceX, did not respond to a request for comment via a spokesperson for Tesla and X, formerly known as Twitter.

Musk’s visit to Gaza, Israel’s war with Palestinian Hamas militants, which lasted for four days of the truce agreement, out of the 240 hostages Israel held by Hamas, it was announced that 40 have been returned to Israel.

Israel’s Channel 12 said Musk would meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. There was no comment from the office.

Netanyahu met with Musk in California on September 18 and urged him to strike a balance between freedom of expression and fighting hate speech after weeks of controversy over anti-Semitic content on X.

Musk responded by saying he opposes anti-Semitism and anything that “encourages hatred and conflict”, having previously said that X does not encourage hate speech.

During that visit, before the war, about 200 people protested Netanyahu’s right-wing government’s efforts to curb the powers of Israeli courts. They gathered outside Tesla’s California factory where the meeting was held.

Then, on November 15, Musk agreed with a post on X that Jewish people were promoting hatred of white people, saying that a user who mentioned a “great replacement” conspiracy theory was telling the “real truth.”

The White House condemned what it called the “abhorrent promotion of anti-Semitic and racist hatred that goes against our core values ​​as Americans.”

Major US companies, including Walt Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and NBCUniversal parent Comcast, have suspended advertising on the social network.

The “great replacement” conspiracy theory is that Jews and leftists will replace white people racially and culturally with non-white immigrants leading to “white genocide.”

Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have increased in the United States and around the world, including the seven-week war between Israel and Hamas.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, a non-profit organization that fights anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic incidents in the United States have increased nearly 400% since the beginning of the year following the outbreak of the war.

Musk said X should be a platform for people to post diverse views, but the company would limit the circulation of certain posts that might violate its policies, calling the approach “free speech, no access.”

Musk is building artificial intelligence startup xAI, and Israel is considered a world leader in the field, with burgeoning computing and robotics industries.

Israel’s nearly $500 billion economy, previously on track to grow this year with low unemployment at 3 percent, is now estimated at about 2 percent, with slower growth expected in 2024 as long as the war continues. After depreciating 6% at the start of the war, the shekel has gained 8% against the dollar and is now at pre-war levels. Aided mainly by domestic investors, the share price also recovered from last month’s sharp decline.

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