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Friday, May 24, 2024

Elon Musk visits Auschwitz

The tech billionaire traveled to the Nazi death camp after weathering allegations of anti-Semitism

X owner Elon Musk has toured the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland, a trip that came after a protracted dispute with online Jewish activists. Speaking at the camp, Musk claimed to have been “naive” about the supposed extent of anti-Semitism in the Western world.

Musk and his son visited the notorious death camp on Monday, accompanied by American Jewish pundit Ben Shapiro on a trip organized by the European Jewish Association (EJA). After lighting a candle for the roughly one million victims who perished at the camp during the Nazi occupation of Poland, Musk spoke at an EJA conference in the nearby city of Krakow.

Read more: 2024 is going to be ‘even more crazy’ – Elon Musk

There, Musk said that he was “frankly naive” about the alleged rise of anti-Semitism in the West. He added that the “pro-Hamas rallies in vast numbers that took place in almost every major city in the West blew my mind, including on the elite college campuses,” referring to all pro-Palestinian protests as supporting the militant group.

The billionaire then claimed that he was “aspirationally Jewish,” and apologized for sharing a “dumb” post on X in November, which claimed that Jewish organizations push “dialectical hatred against whites.” The post triggered an outcry from the Anti-Defamation League, which accused him of anti-Semitism and threatened to tank X’s stock price by organizing an advertiser boycott.

Read more: Elon Musk speaks in favor of Gaza, amid Israel-Hamas conflict

Musk’s apology and veneration of the Jewish people stands in stark contrast to his initial reaction to the ADL’s threat. Back in November, he told advertisers willing to leave X to “go f**k yourself,” after threatening to sue the ADL for its claim that he knowingly allowed “hate speech” to proliferate on the platform.

Shortly after the ADL controversy, Musk toured Israel and met with the Jewish state’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. In an online conference after the meeting, Musk declared that Israel had “no choice” but to destroy Hamas, calling the Palestinian militant group a “poisonous regime.” 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who also met with Musk in Israel, said before the visit that he would use his time with the tech mogul to lecture him on “the need to act to combat rising anti-Semitism online.”

Musk denied allegations that X was enabling or tolerating anti-Semitism, pointing out that he had already banned advocacy of the “genocide of any group” and clarifying that phrases such as “decolonization” and “from the river to the sea” – often used by pro-Palestinian activists – “imply genocide” and can get users banned.