It's tempting to frame Elon Musk's visit as a show of true friendship toward Israel during its challenging fight against a murderous terrorist organization. Yet, to understand the world's richest man's flash visit, one must look beyond the Gaza border region to San Francisco, where X (formerly Twitter), Musk's social network, is headquartered.
The New York Times reported last weekend that the social network is facing a $75 million revenue loss by year-end, after major advertisers like Apple, Disney, IBM and others have pulled advertisements, with dozens more reconsidering to follow suit. The pullback was spurred by a Media Matters report that found that ads from these companies appeared alongside antisemitic and pro-Nazi posts, and a controversial post by Musk echoing an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
On November 16, one X user claimed, "Jewish communities have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them. I'm deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest shit now about western Jewish populations coming to the disturbing realization that those hordes of minorities that support flooding their country don't exactly like them too much.”
The post resonates with the Great Replacement theory suggesting Jews are orchestrating the replacement of white communities with immigrant populations. Musk replied, " You have said the actual truth."
A history of problematic comments
This isn't the first time Musk has been accused of antisemitism. Last May, he attacked Jewish Holocaust survivor and billionaire George Soros, likening him to Magneto - a villain from the X-Men series. As a result, the term "Jews" surged in trending topics on X.
In September, he declared war on the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), one of the world's most recognized and longstanding Jewish organizations, claiming they falsely accused him of antisemitism and hurt X's revenues. Musk responded and liked tweets with the hashtag #BanTheADL, which became fertile ground for antisemitic expressions and accusations of the ADL being racist toward white people.
Musk has denied being antisemitic and filed a lawsuit against Media Matters, which he accuses of “knowingly and maliciously manufactur[ing] side-by-side images depicting advertisers’ posts on X Corp.’s social media platform beside Neo-Nazi and white-nationalist fringe content and then portray[ing] these manufactured images as if they were what typical X users experience on the platform.”
In Musk's view, as the self-styled "free speech absolutist" who acquired Twitter in 2022, the problem isn't the hateful content on his platform but the organization that exposed it.
It's impossible to ignore that under Musk's leadership, X is flooded with fake news, disinformation, hate speech and, of course, antisemitism.
According to an ADL report, which Musk despises, antisemitism on X spiked by 919% following the outbreak of the war in Gaza. The platform freely hosts numerous antisemitic accounts, one prominent being Jackson Hinkle, who spreads lies about Israel to millions of followers.
News Guard reports that some of these accounts have a blue check, indicating that X profits from them and may even share a portion of its advertising revenues with them. Just on Monday, Ynet reported that even Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, posts unhindered on X.
Musk seems to be relying on the short human memory, hoping his visit to Kfar Aza and meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will help rectify his image and bring advertisers back to X. His opportunism is understandable as a businessman trying to save a struggling company. However, the prime minister’s cooperation with this facade is particularly puzzling.
Monday afternoon, Musk and Netanyahu had a 20-minute talk on X, discussing the horrors committed by Hamas on October 7 and future reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip, which Musk wants to be part of. Surprisingly, Netanyahu neglected to mention the issue of antisemitism, which greatly concerns many Israelis and Jews worldwide. Responding to a Ynet query, sources from the Prime Minister's Office explained that "it was agreed not to discuss any topic other than the war."
Shout out to President Isaac Herzog, who, even before Musk's visit, said he would emphasize "the commitment and need to combat the rampant antisemitism online."
During their meeting Monday at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, Herzog told Musk, “We are inundated by antisemitism, which is Jew hatred. And Jew hatred impacts the behavior of human beings in so many places around the world, and you have a huge role to play. We need to fight it together because on the platforms which you lead, unfortunately, there's a harboring of a lot of all the hate, which is Jew hatred, which is antisemitism.” At least there’s a president in Jerusalem.